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FDA approves device designed to protect athletes from traumatic brain injuries

The Q-Collar is designed to be worn around the neck and to increase the flow of blood to the brain.

UFC On Versus 4 6-26-2011
A fighter receives care from a cage-side physician at UFC on Versus.

According to CNN a new device, designed to prevent traumatic brain injuries (TBIs), has been approved by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The FDA declared that the Q-Collar was authorized for athletes 13 and older and that it can be used during football, soccer and other high-impact sports.

The device is a c-shaped collar that is designed to be worn at the base of the neck. The collar clamps down on blood vessels in the neck, increasing the amount of blood volume in the skull. This increase of blood volume limits how much the brain can move inside the skull.

It is generally believed that TBIs, and mild traumatic brain injuries (mTBIs), are caused by the brain moving within the skull.

TBIs, which include potentially lethal brain bleeds are caused by linear acceleration (back and forth/side to side movements) of the brain within the skull. This type of movement can result in the brain impacting on the inside of the skull, which can cause blood vessels to break. When vessels break, blood can pool between the brain and the skull. These pools of blood cause pressure on the brain. This pressure often causes lethal damage.

Many combat sports athletes have died after suffering TBIs during fights. Among them are MMA fighters Tim Hague and Joao Carvalho and boxers Patrick Day and Maxim Dadashev.

The researchers behind the Q-Collar conducted a study using nearly 300 high school football players. In that study they discovered that, after a season, 73% of the players who did not wear the Q-Collar had changes in the deep structures of their brain. 77% of the players who wore the collar had no significant changes in those same brain structures.

The Q-Collar has also been tested at the NFL level. Carolina Panthers’ linebacker Luke Kuechly, who has a history of head injuries, wore one during his final few seasons with the NFL, before eventually retiring last year.

The FDA stated that the Q-Collar did not demonstrate the ability to prevent symptoms associated with concussion and that it should not replace other protective equipment associated with sports activities.

MTBIs, commonly referred to as ‘concussions’, are caused by rotational acceleration of the brain within the skull. The rotation of the brain causes the brain to release a protein known as tau. The brain does not need to collide with the inside of the skull to release tau.

Build up of tau in the brain causes chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE). Symptoms of CTE range from headaches and vertigo to dementia and increased risk of suicide.