If woodpeckers are constantly knocking their heads against a hard object at high speeds, how do their brains stay undamaged? This question has inspired scientists to analyze woodpecker anatomy when searching for solutions to protect athletes from traumatic brain injuries (TBIs).

Woodpeckers have long tongues and unique bone structures which encapsulate their jugular veins, helping to increase blood volume around the brain. This creates a natural cushion that protects the brain from over-sloshing, or moving beyond the cranial fluid and “crashing” into the interior of the skull. Researchers at Q30 Innovations have designed a collar that is designed to mimic this jugular vein constriction in humans, helping athletes gently increase the blood volume around their brains when competing.

The Q-Collar, as it has been named, showed promising results in a small study conducted in late 2015. Two new studies involving a few high school football teams in Cincinnati have just been completed. Gregory Myer, MD, publisher of previous studies on brain slosh, regards the new studies as important steps forward in bringing this innovation to the playing field, but admits that more data analysis still needs to be completed. The results of these new studies were published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine.

Click here to read an article about this research published on the EurekAlert! Science News outlet.