By: Gyang Dakwo
Eagle-eyed viewers might have noticed Canadian international Quinn sporting an interesting piece of gear around their neck in their nation’s Women’s World Cup group stage opener against Nigeria. So too with Costa Rican star Rocky Rodriguez.
The duo are just two of many footballers who have begun to employ the Q-Collar, a horseshoe-shaped piece of silicone tasked with protecting the brain from the inside to combat the prevalence of brain injuries in contact sports.
With pride, prestige and a big prize for grabs at this summer’s showpiece event, the need for protection has arguably never been greater.
In fact, days before the tournament’s opening matches, a new study, published by The Journal of the American Medical Association, found that “the risk of cognitive impairment increased with the cumulative heading frequency” after they evaluated the cognitive impairment of more than 450 retired professional men’s footballers in the UK and the frequency with which they headed the ball during their playing careers.
The findings reinforced those of earlier studies, but past research has also established that female footballers are considerably more likely to experience brain injuries in comparison to their male counterparts. In fact, for every 1,000 hours of playing or practising soccer, there are about 1.5 concussions for women compared with 1.0 for men, according to the British Journal of Sports Medicine.
Meanwhile, concussions caused by ball-to-head contact is also much more common in women and girls, than in men.
The reasoning behind females’ higher vulnerability is linked to different reasons including differences in neck muscles, metabolisms and hormone cycles.
Nevertheless, the danger posed to female and male footballers is stark, which is why the Q-collar is fast becoming a part of more footballers’ uniforms.
Dr David Smith, a former internist who invented the device, explained that the device prevents excessive brain movement within the skull, thus mitigating the risk of brain injuries.