Woodpeckers May Lead the Way to Prevent Football Concussions

A new device may soon be available to help eliminate concussions in football (and other sports, e.g., ice hockey, NASCAR, etc.).  The technology is based on woodpeckers and the fact that they can bang their head against a tree repeatedly and not suffer any ill-effects. It’s not a new helmet however:

“Helmets are good at preventing skull fractures, but they can’t prevent concussions. That’s because the brain floats in fluid inside the skull, like an egg yolk inside a shell. No matter how well the outside is padded, the brain is still damaged when it sloshes against the sides of the skull during a collision. Bailes’s innovation is a collar that lightly constricts the jugular vein, which has the effect of reducing the jiggle room inside the cranium.”

Rather, the technology is based on the physiology of woodpeckers:

“He began studying woodpeckers. One of their most unusual features is a long tongue, which in some species is supported by bones that wrap all the way around the head. Smith theorizes these compress the woodpecker’s neck veins as it thrusts its head forward, increasing the volume of blood between its brain and its skull. Smith says this extra fluid “works like Bubble Wrap” to help keep the brain from knocking against the skull. He was convinced that the same effect could be reproduced in humans, perhaps with some kind of collar.”

Click here to read the full story.

This could be a real game changer (no pun intended) if it really works (and a lot of “ifs” here).  Eliminating or significantly reducing head injuries in football would be a godsend to the players (at all levels), the NFL owners, and the fans – who are often conflicted between the love of big hits and concern about the well-being of their favorite players.

Fingers crossed on this one.

That’s it for now football fans,


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