Analysis of Force-Limiting Capabilities of Football Neck Collars
McNeely, David Eugene
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The purpose of this study was to examine football neck collars and determine their effectiveness at preventing transient brachial plexopathy and other neck injuries due to football impacts. Transient brachial plexopathy, commonly called a stinger or burner, is an injury to the brachial plexus. As many as 65% of collegiate football players will receive suffer such an injury. Accessory neck collars are worn to mitigate the risk of stingers, although little research has been performed to test their effectiveness. In addition to the standard shoulder pad and helmet combination, three collars were tested: the McDavid Cowboy Collar, a collar designed by a Virginia Tech physician called the Bullock Collar, and a prototype device called the Kerr Collar. This study utilized a Hybrid-III 50th percentile male outfitted with a standard collegiate football helmet and shoulder pads, and impacted with a linear pneumatic impactor. Forty eight total impacts were performed; impacts were performed at side, front, and axial loading impact locations, with low and high speed impacts, and normal and raised shoulder pad configurations. Each collar was effective at some positions, but no collar was effective at all impact locations. The Cowboy Collar reduced lower neck bending moments in the front position, but raised upper neck bending moments. It also reduced lower neck bending moments in the side position, but only in the raised configuration. The Bullock Collar was effective at reducing lower neck bending moment in the side position. The Kerr Collar was effective at reducing lower neck bending moments in the side impact location, and provided a larger percent reduction in impactor force in the axial loading position, compared to the shoulder pads alone. Further testing is needed at lower impact velocities that more closely represent injurious impacts in the field.
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