Feb 27, 2021 - Sports

FDA approves device intended to reduce traumatic brain injuries

Wide Receivers at Culver City High School in California practicing routes on Feb. 26.

Wide receivers at Culver City High School in California practicing routes on Feb. 26. Photo: Jason Armond/Los Angeles Times via Getty Images

The Food and Drug Administration authorized a device called the "Q-Collar" that may help reduce the risk of traumatic brain injuries "associated with repetitive sub-concussive head impacts" sustained during sports.

Why it matters: Impact athletics, such as football, are a major cause of TBI-related emergency department visits, hospitalizations and deaths across the U.S. every year.

By the numbers: The National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke estimates there are between 1.6 million and 3.8 million sports- and recreation-related TBIs in the country each year.

How it works: The Q-Collar, authorized for athletes 13 and older, adds compressive force to the jugular veins when worn around the neck.

  • The force increases the blood volume in the skull’s blood vessels, creating a tighter fit of the brain inside the skull.
  • That reduces the brain's ability to move unrestrained in the skull, which may protect the organ from the effects of head impacts, the FDA said.

What they're saying: “Today’s action provides an additional piece of protective equipment athletes can wear when playing sports to help protect their brains from the effects of repetitive head impacts while still wearing the personal protective equipment associated with the sport,” said Christopher Loftus, acting director of the FDA's Office of Neurological and Physical Medicine Devices.

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