Already making its way into popular high school contact sports, the Q Collar purports to make the brain safer within the wearer’s skull. And it has obvious implications for any sport where head injuries are common.
Up to now, helmets have been the best available option at preventing brain injury — from the outside. But what if we could protect the brain from inside the skull? That’s the question that drove a team of doctors in Canada to find a different solution to the “brain injury epidemic.”
Launching commercially for the first time, the Q Collar approaches concussion safety from a new angle: reduce the amount of space inside the skull for the brain to move around. Worn around the neck, the horseshoe-shaped Q Collar applies “light pressure to the jugular veins [which] slightly increases blood volume inside the skull and helps reduce the brain’s movement.”
Formerly licensed by Bauer for youth hockey players, Q 30, maker of Q Collar, today launches the device for anyone to purchase. To start, it will retail in Canada. But the brand said it’s currently working through regulatory approval for sale in the U.S.
Q Collar Concussion Protection
According to Q 30, it tested Q Collar over 6 years in 20 studies that included more than 1,000 participants. According to its research, the collar reduced torn fibers in the brain by more than 80 percent.
The brand claims these findings are also backed by peer-reviewed analysis and major clinical institutions like Harvard University, Cincinnati Children’s Hospital, and the University of Toronto.
“Recognizing the limits of external protective equipment, such as helmets, in preventing movement-related damage to the brain, we looked for a way to reduce brain movement from the inside,” said Q Collar co-inventor and neuroscientist Dr. Joseph Fisher.
“Building on the key concept for why brain injury takes place, we reasoned that with a slight increase of blood volume caused by gentle compression of the neck veins, we could help reduce the brain’s movement, thereby protecting it from being stretched and jostled inside the skull.”
Dr. Fisher and his colleagues claim they looked at why some animals — like rams and woodpeckers — seem more impervious to concussions than humans. The key, they found, was to reduce “slosh,” the movement of the brain within (and against) the skull.
Q 30 purports the Q Collar does this through “gentle compression” of neck veins that increases blood volume around the brain. The brand predominantly markets Q Collar for youth athletics. But it also advertises the technology as benefitting outdoor athletes of any age, including cyclists and skiers.
Q Collar: How Safe?
As with all safety equipment, wearers should not expect the Q Collar to 100 percent prevent brain injury. And we’ll remain skeptical of the claims for now. After all, Q 30 notes that although its testing found “no known adverse events,” it recommends wearing the Q Collar no more than 4 hours at a time.
Canadian residents can buy the Q Collar now for $250. Consumers in the U.S. and elsewhere will have to wait until the product receives regulatory approval.