Last year, Chris Borland of the San Francisco 49ers announced he was quitting football because of the high risk of concussion and long-term brain damage, despite protective helmets. And he’s not alone: it’s a growing concern, particularly for teenaged athletes. But a new collar inspired by the humble woodpecker may help protect athletes from such trauma in the future .
You hear about it in news stories and see it in movies: People are struggling to understand what the risk is of a concussion causing long-term brain damage. Their biggest fear is that they will develop chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), which results in abnormal deposits of proteins in the brain, possibly causing a severe form of early onset dementia. Despite its discovery in 1957 by renowned neurologist Dr. Macdonald Critchley, CTE was only recently defined, diagnostically, by a U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH)-funded committee, when the members met to spell out CTE criteria in February 2015.
A concussion is a traumatic brain injury (TBI) caused by the brain violently bouncing or twisting inside of the skull. These types of injuries can be caused by hits to the head or a sudden whipping back and forth of the neck or body.
On August 1, the Green Bay Packers were participating in their third day of training camp when wide receiver Adrian Coxson needed to be taken off the field in an ambulance after experiencing severe dizziness. Eventually, Coxson was diagnosed with a Grade 3 concussion. The ordeal left a lasting impact on the Stony Brook product, who at 24 years old, announced his retirement today from the game of football, fearing that the next hit to his head could jeopardize his long-term health or even his life.