Think beyond the helmet

As concerns about traumatic brain injury (TBI) and health and safety continue to be top of mind for parents, coaches and players themselves, an innovation focused on helping to reduce brain injury – the Q-Collar – is available to athletes in Canada.

Fitted and worn around the neck, the Q-Collar is used with other sports equipment to help protect the brain from sports-related impacts. A number of professional and elite athletes in North America are already wearing it on the field, including Winnipeg Blue Bombers linebacker Adam Bighill who also advocates for young athletes and their parents to pay closer attention to its potential.

The Q-Collar was created by a team of doctors who identified that the movement of the brain inside the skull, also known as “slosh”, is a key cause of structural changes to the brain.

“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,” says Dr. Joseph Fisher, anesthesiologist and neuroscientist at the University of Toronto, and co-inventor of the Q-Collar technology. “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.”

Extensive clinical studies, trials and research published in peer-reviewed journals and conducted by leading medical institutions including the Cincinnati Children’s Hospital, University of Toronto and Harvard University have confirmed this thinking. Studies include real-life, on-field testing by more than 500 athletes and across sports including football, soccer, hockey, lacrosse, skiing and auto racing, demonstrating that wearing the Q-Collar can help protect the brain from sports-related impacts. The Q-Collar has been designed for any sport or activity where an athlete is exposed to head impacts. Canadian athletes, their parents and coaches now have the opportunity to use the Q-Collar as an added layer of protective equipment.

The Q-Collar is available at for $250 and the company also offers a team sales program for orders of 20 or more.