The woodpecker is best known for its ability to use its beak to smash repeatedly into thick trees. Scientists began to ask, “How do they do this without bodily damage?” and that question may hold the answer to curing sporting TBIs. Julian Bailes, chairman of neurosurgery at NorthShore University HeathSystem is an expert in traumatic brain injuries and concussions. He is taking inspiration from our feathered friends in helping humans in preventing serious brain injuries that can have life-long consequences.
Researchers looked at animals that have repeated hard impacts on their head, woodpeckers and bighorn sheep to help unlock the key to brain protection. After a long study, they determined that both animals prevent injury by adjusting the pressure within their skulls. The woodpecker uses its tongue to wrap around its neck and apply pressure to the jugular, regulating blood pressure. Could we do something similar with our athletes? Possibly!
In theory, a sports collar could achieve the same pressure-altering ability as the woodpecker’s tongue. By applying pressure to the jugular, it increases blood flow to the brain and slightly cushions your brain from the inside out. Brain injuries occur not only from impact but also the way the brain “sloshes” around in the cerebrospinal fluid. With increasing the amount of fluid, the brain stays more stable. This can reduce the signs of brain damage when impacts occur.
Q30 Innovations has developed a collar prototype that is currently being tested as a possibly preventative TBI product. Hopefully, the preliminary results are promising so we can better protect our athletes from brain injuries.
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