Bauer has unveiled a new device that they say could protect against brain damage.
The sports equipment maker has teamed up with U.S.-based Q30 Innovations, which acquired commercial rights to the underlying technology for NeuroShield, to develop the collar-like device.
NeuroShield is worn around the neck, applying slight pressure, which increases blood volume in the veins around the brain, filling up some of the space, helping to reduce movement in the skull.
Dr. Julian Bailes, head of neurosurgery at the NorthShore University Health System in Chicago, told a news conference in Toronto, the human brain is tethered, but floating in about seven millimetres of spinal fluid.
“It moves inside the skull, it tears fibres, it results in severe forms of diffuse axonal injury, it causes contusions or bleeding in the brain or causes the lethal subdural hematoma from tearing of veins.”
The NeuroShield allows a slight increase of blood in the brain, which fills up some of the space, reducing movement in the skull.
The idea began when Dr. David Smith, former chief of medicine at Reid Hospital in Indiana, was inspired by the woodpecker’s ability to withstand high-energy impact without suffering brain damage.
Greg Myer, a sports medicine researcher at the Cincinnati Children’s Hospital has spent the last four years conducting studies on the product, he compares NeuroShield to a hose with a kink in it.
“Putting a kink in the hose … it creates an immediate backfill. It’s kind of (like) making an airbag for the brain.”
High school-aged football and soccer players who wore a NeuroShield had no significant structural brain changes. Those who didn’t don the collar had extensive damage over time.
It’s not yet known whether the device can also prevent concussions. Determining that will require large groups of athletes to participate in studies, Myer said.
“It’s an important step forward, but we need to continue to do the research with this, looking at how this works on a larger scale across different athletes in different sports.”
The NeuroShield, available in eight sizes for children and adults aged seven and up, will retail in Canada for $199.