Sport-Related Concussion (SRC): What Will You Do With The Truth?
The prevention of concussion in sport is not what we have been taught to believe!
In April 2020, VICIS, a football helmet company who spent millions of dollars and was at one time valued at $90 million, who introduced their football helmet in 2017, sold to another football helmet company for $2.85 million. When I read this, I questioned how we have been led to believe that a football helmet is the only available protective safety equipment with the technology capable of preventing sport-related concussion (SRC). Because this is what they want us to believe! And indirectly, the NFL has supported and even promoted this narrative and paradigm of thought.
The helmet companies have created a narrative that concussions only occur with direct contact to the helmet through the biomechanical testing of helmets. The majority of testing on helmets have focused on the kinematic measures of peak linear acceleration (PLA), peak rotational acceleration (PRA), impact duration (IMPD), and recently impact location (IMPL) has been incorporated into the mix. [2,3,4,5,6,7] It is important to note that IMPD is a key factor here as these measures are only taken during impact. The IMPD of the head/helmet is the time period when the head/helmet collides with another body. Head/helmet impacts have been recorded as having an IMPD between 5.5 and 13.7 milliseconds (ms).  In some way the head is still moving after impact. Therefore, the brain is moving and vulnerable for much longer than the IMPD. Intentional or unintentional the paradigm of thought is they want us to believe is that helmets protect the brain. Which is simply not the whole truth. The brain is at risk for SRC as long the head continues to move which is much longer than milliseconds. If helmets only protect during IMPD does other technology need to be investigated to protect the brain after impact?
Again, whether it is intentional or unintentional the NFL indirectly promotes and supports the narrative that helmets are the only technology available to prevent SRC. On April 20, 2021, the NFL and NFLPA released its 2021 Helmet Laboratory Testing Results ranking the VICIS ZERO2-R MATRIX, VICIS ZERO2-R TRENCH, and the VICIS ZERO2-R helmets as best performing helmets in their laboratory research tests. On the same day the NFL and NFLPA released their laboratory testing results they also approved the first position-specific helmet design for offensive and defensive lineman, the VICIS ZERO2-R TRENCH.  And with the release of the 2021 results, Jeff Miller, NFL Executive Vice President overseeing Player Health and Safety, offered a $1 million prize for a winning helmet which improves on the performance score achieved by current top-performing helmets by more than 15%. This would mark a transformational improvement approximately five times greater than the average year. As a health care professional and a consumer this raises several questions. How can the number one ranked helmet by the NFL basically go out of business if a helmet protects against concussion? And what is a 15% improvement in the performance of a helmet when we have not been informed of the % improvement in helmets over the past 10-12 years? If a 15% improvement is what is sought, then past improvements have occurred in very minimal increments.
This picture that has been painted by the helmet companies and the NFL is that the helmet is the only way to protect the brain. This is not the whole truth and believe it or not they know it! Want to know more?
We are looking for affiliates to help promote a safer game, teach the value of prevention, support local football, and even make some money.
Program 1 – Sales
This is for the hustler, the athlete, the business minded person who knows and loves football and would like to monetize it. This program is simple, we get to know each other, decide if it is a fit, and set up a plan for you. You are required to take a short, 10 minute training session to ensure compliance and a simple quiz to ensure you are telling the right story. We then work on getting you a sample, a promo code, printed materials, a web landing page, and your support plan to ensure success.
Program 2 – Fundraising
This is for the school official, parent, or fan that wants to make sure safety hits home. We will work with you to customize a plan the allows money to flow into your booster program or youth program. We create a system similar to the sales promotion and work to add value to your passion. This can be anything from having us speak at the preseason parent meeting to getting a clinic study set up for your team. We can point a percentage of proceeds to wherever it makes the biggest impact.
The best thing about these programs is they are simple. We have the templates and resources, you have the contacts. We simply bring those two things together!
Remember – a safer player is a confident player. Let’s build that confidence into playing time, a scholarship, a state title, or even greater joy for this great game.
Protect Your Athlete
Football parents walk a line between passion for the game and concern about injury. We are proud to be working toward alleviating a big part of the tension on the “fear-of-injury” side of the line. In fact, we’re certain we can help get your athlete on the field.
Safety technology has changed.
Game safety is a system. Proper gear, coaching, technique and confidence work together to keep the game clock running. A critical part of the system, safety gear has one glaring omission: slowing down the head after impact. Current safety research and investment revolve around this dilemma. Helmets and shoulder pads have long been the only weapon in this fight, and the conclusion is clear: it’s not enough.
Introducing: the next major evolution in football safety
Kato Collar fits discretely in the shoulder pads, and is both lightweight and durable. It has been biomechanically tested to decrease the speed of the helmet after impact by up to 30%. If the helmet slows down, the head slows down — and that means the brain slows down. (CLICK HERE TO SEE IT IN ACTION) Keeping the brain from a violent collision inside the skull is an obvious value, but unless your athlete can have full range of motion — ensuring the player can perform at an optimum level — the value is lost. If it hinders play, it will stay inside the locker. This is why Kato Collar is designed to give full active range of motion for every player, every position, every practice, every game, and every level.
Using Kato Collar
Kato Collar is easy to install. There are two sizes of collar and two thickness of deceleration pads to ensure full range of motion during play while still cradling the helmet upon impact. The pads can be detached for proper fitting and easy cleaning, but in essence, Kato Collar becomes part of the should pads — once it is in position, you don’t have to think about it again.
The first thing your athlete will notice is that they’ll quickly not notice it. Legacy collars — designed to battle chronic neck issues and block players from moving — are nothing like Kato Collar. Thanks to its innovative design, Kato Collar can be worn by PLAYERS IN EVERY POSITION. Much like all gear, once your athlete wears it for a while, it becomes comfortable and familiar.
Our team is here to help. We would love to discuss options with your coach, athletic director, or booster club. Let’s work together to keep this great game safe and your athlete focused on making the next play.
Calling All Fans
We Love Football. Here at Guardian Athletics, we’ve always championed the game, and worked passionately on behalf of a safer game. Like many businesses around the world, we had to step back last year and let the game survive as coaches and teams were trying to simply stay afloat, stay relevant, and keep their players healthy.
And now…with great optimism, we are back! It’s time to continue the journey and bring greater brain-safety to the game.
We believe and the science indicates that Kato Collar decelerates the helmet, head, and brain after impact. We believe this technology should and will be the next big breakthrough in football. We believe that soon we will be viewed no differently than the helmet or shoulder pads. But we need your help.
Like so many others, Guardian Athletics took a serious blow to our momentum and finances last year. To jumpstart the reset, we partnered with Net Capital to offer affordable equity investments in our company. This raise will get us off the sideline and into the game. Check out our offering; be part of the brain-safety solution and be an owner with us. This is not a donation or go fund me style raise. This is equity in Guardian Athletics.
We humbly ask you to consider helping us. Together, we can make this great game even better by allowing athletes to play with the confidence that comes with playing all out. Help keep the Friday night lights burning brightly; help athletes perform on a blustery Saturday; keep Sunday in front of the TV optimistic.
As always, feel free to contact us to chat about this offering, the science behind our solution, or even about your child’s game.
Our founder, Jeff Chambers, recently met with the Mankato Free Press to talk about player safety and offer an update on our progress from our first season. Check out the article here.
News: Guardian Athletics Awarded MILE Investment
Minnesota Innovation Loans for Entrepreneurs (MILE) program.
We are excited to announce the recent award of a Minnesota Innovation Loan for Entrepreneurs, known as MILE. This interest-free loan will be used to further our research and innovation to bring Kato Collar to more players in additional sizes and options. You can read more about the story here.
For media inquiries, please contact Zeb Carlson at email@example.com or 651-767-2678.
News: Rich Gannon Partnership
We’re excited to announce Rich Gannon, former NFL quarterback and CBS Sports game analyst has joined our advisory board.
“Football has been a big part of my life
and I’ve been fortunate to be associated with the NFL for over 30 years.”, says
Gannon. “Unfortunately, injuries are a big part of our game and that’s why the
safety element to me is absolutely critical. I’m excited to partner with
Guardian Athletics and the Kato Collar because I believe this is a piece of
equipment that can help players at any level. The design & technology
behind the collar is proven to help reduce the forces that are believed to
cause concussions, helping to keep players safer on the field. We’re excited to
see it in action this season.”
For more the full press release, please click here. For press inquiries, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
WHAT PEOPLE ARE SAYING ABOUT KATO COLLAR
2018 NATA Recap
This is our second year attending NATA (National Athletic Trainers Association) and find it to be among the best events we go to. It certainly helped that this year’s conference was in the Big Easy; we had a great time after hours eating jambalaya and listening to local tunes! A long day’s work should always end with great food and live music, agreed?
With over 10,000 attendees from all disciplines across sports medicine, this event has lots of thought leadership from the attendees and break out groups. If you are involved in sports in general, this is certainly a great show to attend. This year, we were impressed with the variety of speakers and topics. There were traditional sessions such as diagnosing an ACL injury yet also there were loads of discussions about problems you can’t touch.
Mental health of our athletes. Negative emotional stimuli. Sleep recommendations for competitive athletes. New developments in pediatric concussions. These topic areas are interesting to us, as well as shows our industry — as a whole — is thinking outside the box and taking a whole-athlete approach to safety and recovery after an injury.
One session was around allowing kids to play football, and I can’t say it enough: The game is the safest its ever been yet we need to keep working to create better protection. Taking this whole body approach is important, ensuring the players are doing everything on and off the field to play their best game. Balancing this responsibility with parents, coaches, trainers, and players is what ensures we can keep moving forward.
In spite of the great energy around a holistic approach we still see a lack of conversations around equipment that focuses on gaps in protective gear: Mostly, it’s focused on helmets and pads. Yes, these are important pieces of gear. But slowing down the head after impact is important, too. We continue to connect the training and gear together with creative solutions, such as our collar.
We listened to conversations around innovative approaches to concussion management, such as with NCAA swim programs and the academic effects of concussions in high school and college athletes, and proud of the work that’s being done to advance our understanding of how to treat concussions. These conversations reinforced our belief in how to also prevent them from happening, and how we have more work to do to get more teams adopting our collar.
If we had a chance to talk at NATA, thanks for the time! If you’d like to continue our conversation or learn more, sign up for our weekly webinar. And let us know what you thought of NATA this year, too!
NEWS: WE’RE DEVELOPING A YOUTH COLLAR
When we built the original Kato Collar, we knew it would be a game changer in player safety. Colleges, universities, high schools, and individual players are all preventing head and neck injuries with Kato Collar. We were just getting started.
On Thursday, May 17, we’re launching our crowdfunding campaign to fuel research, development, and delivery of a youth collar. We’re organizing parents and teams who realize there’s a lack of gear that addresses the frequency, severity, and recovery times of head and neck injuries. This fear of injuries is preventing athletes of all ages from the sport they love.
So today, this is a big announcement for us. It’s been a long road but we’ve got no intention of stopping or slowing down.
In high school, college and the NFL, the shoulder pads are streamlined to fit tightly over the shoulders and around the chest. Because it’s a tight-fitting jersey, it’s easy for us to attach our adult Kato Collar to the shoulder pads and prevent movement of the collar. Additionally, there are many fewer variations in shoulder pads and other gear so we can guarantee a comfortable fit for our players.
However, it’s different for our youth and junior high football players. The design for this size of collar presents some interesting challenges:
There are infinitely many different sizes of players.
There are few choices on sizes of shoulder pads currently available to youth participants. As a result, the jerseys are loose fitting jerseys to accommodate the different sizes of athletes.
We worked with the Iron Range Engineering School in our home state of Minnesota, to have them help us research and prototype options for how we can devise a collar that fits to the player, not the pads. We saw this opportunity as a way to listen to new voices in the football community, to help us think outside the box. As my career has been grounded in college sports, I also found this to be a great opportunity for real-world learning for the students. And Iron Range Engineering is among the top engineering schools in the country, so this was a chance to work with some of the brightest and best young people you could ask for!
As a result, we determined early on that a collar attached to the shoulder pads of junior high and youth players would not be as effective due to a migration of the collar during play. It required additional product design considerations. We had three potential approaches:
Sewing the collar into a tight-fitting shirt
Utilizing various harness mechanisms to attach our collar to the torso and shoulders
Attaching the collar via a protective vest
Essentially the collar itself remains a similar design. Our patent is on the collar, not the flange that attaches it to the equipment or the player. Additionally, this design is the essence of our collar, ensuring a discreet design while offering the airbags to slow down the head after impact.
It’s the flange. We need to have a different way to attach the collar itself to the player.
We’ll get there, for sure. I have never been the kind of person to give up on something just because it’s too hard or seems impossible to accomplish. Yet I know we can’t do it alone. Just like the partnership with the students at the Iron Range School, I am listening to other voices in our football communities to develop this collar, and need help bringing it to market. We’ll get there, yes; yet we have kids playing now that are at too much risk of injury. Our goal is to have it on players for fall ‘18 football season.
Guardian Athletics and the football community are asking for your support to help make a Youth Kato Collar to all youth football participants. Our goal is to have a youth and junior high collar available during fall 2018. To do this we need your help! Your financial support will be used for research, design, and completion of a product to make the game safer for our youth playing the game they love. Join us in our quest to prevent injuries, make the game safer and LET THEM PLAY!
A bit more about the Iron Range School:
Iron Range Engineering (IRE) has been recognized as one of the top 10 emerging world leaders in engineering education through the recent publication of a Massachusetts Institute of Technology research study.
Iron Range Engineering provides an engineering education to graduates of Minnesota’s community colleges. Using an innovative approach based on the latest research on how people learn, the IRE model guides students to develop the wide variety of technical, professional, and design knowledge and skills that engineers need to succeed in the ever-changing world.
IRE is located on the Mesabi Range College campus in Virginia, Minnesota. The program is supported by the Iron Range Higher Education Committee and the Department of Iron Range Resources & Rehabilitation, and funded through the Iron Range Higher Education Account. The program is delivered by a university-college partnership between Minnesota State University, Mankato, and Itasca Community College. Please, check out their website and Facebook page for more info!
For more info about our crowdfunding, please click here. Please donate at any amount!
NEWS: MANKATO FREE PRESS
Our founder, Jeff Chambers, sat down with the Mankato Free Press to tell them a bit about our collar. Check it out by clicking the link below.
Kato Collar helps keep players safe in the game by decelerating the head by up to 30% after an impact. This helps prevent concussions, burner/stingers, and other injuries. To learn more about the collar, click here.
Kato Collar helps keep players safe in the game by decelerating the head by up to 30% after an impact. This helps prevent concussions, burner/stingers, and other injuries. To check out the collar, click here.
What is Heads Up Training?
Over my years as a trainer, I always kept abreast of the latest in techniques and researched/implemented parts that worked best to improve player safety. I’m often asked what I think about these programs, and I’m happy to share my thoughts with you here.
USA’s Heads Up Football program for youth, and junior and senior high school sports. [USA’s program for Jr. & Sr. high school is combined with the National Federation of State High School Associations (NFHS).]
CDC’s Heads Up program focuses on changing the culture of concussions through online education and printed materials for parents, coaches, and athletes of all ages through their high school years. Their educational courses and materials focus on recognition and understanding of a concussion, return to play/activity after a concussion, and prevention of concussion.
USA’s Heads Up Football program is focused on creating a culture of football safety going beyond just focusing on concussion. They offer professional development courses and coaching certifications at all levels of football which address recognition of concussion and prevention of concussion through proper coaching technique and proper equipment fitting. USA Football Heads Up also addresses youth coaching philosophy.
As a former Certified Athletic Trainer for close to 35 years and the Founder of Guardian Athletics, I support any program that advocates for player safety. The CDC Heads Up program focuses on recognition and follow-up care of a concussion to ensure proper healing a mild traumatic brain injury to prevent the next episode from occurring. USA Football Heads Up program focuses on recognizing a concussion and goes into prevention through education of coaches and players on the proper fundamentals of tackling and blocking. Additionally, their program addresses a couple other injuries/illnesses occurring in football.
People are looking for a quick answer to the concussion question. There isn’t one. The keys are education and innovation. Guardian Athletics believes concussion prevention is a combination of properly fitted equipment, coaching the correct fundamentals of tackling and blocking, education on the recognition and proper care of concussions, and innovation of equipment for protection against concussions. Not one thing will safeguard against all concussions, but if we combine all of these things together in a concerted effort we can reduce the number and significance of concussions.
I encourage you to review these programs and implement them at a scale that makes sense for you. And if you have utilized these training mechanisms, I want to hear from you. What worked well? What didn’t? Send me your thoughts at email@example.com.
NEWS: Aurora Register
Our founder, Jeff Chambers, was recently featured in his hometown newspaper, the Aurora Register. To view or download the article, please click here. To view the article on Aurora Register, please register for an account on their website.
What’s Active Range of Motion?
When someone or something indicates that there is full range of motion (ROM) it is important to understand the context in which it is being used for description. Active Range of Motion (AROM) and Passive Range of Motion (PROM) may be very different, and the terms are generally used to describe the movement of various joints of the body. AROM means how far a joint moves without assistance. This motion consists of how far youcan move your joint in any given direction. PROM is assessed to determine the amount of movement possible at a joint. PROM occurs when you are relaxed, and an athletic trainer or physical therapist moves your joint to the extreme end ROM to attain the maximum range existing for that joint. It is important to note most joints have more PROM than AROM.
The neck (cervical spine) providing for the motion of the head may have the most difference of AROM to PROM. This is referred to as head and neck motions. As a Certified Athletic Trainer, I noticed this early in my career there was more passive head and neck motion than active, yet to locate the numbers or percentages on the difference when researching was difficult to find. There is not much documentation out there for this specific comparison. Based on my research and experience I conservatively indicate that the head and neck have 15 to 20% more PROM than AROM. This is important to note when you look at how a joint is injured.
Most injuries occur when a joint is forced beyond its extreme, beyond the end of PROM and this is no different for the head and neck. In football (or for that matter, any activity or sport) when the head is hit directly as in helmet to helmet, an indirect hit where the head and neck are whipped into motion, if they go beyond the extreme, past the end PROM that is where the injury occurs. This is where the burner/stinger injury occurs and when the brain is injured after the initial impact of the hit. Brain injury does not just occur from the impact of a collision when the brain comes toward the site of the contact, yet also can occur when the head and neck change directions and move away from the impact with the twisting, turning, and whipping away from the impact.
How do we slow down this twisting, turning movement from going past the end PROM where the injuries happen? One thing we know is the helmet can’t protect this movement as it is attached to the head. Some even claim it adds to the force that is exerted in this motion past the extreme. We believe there is only one way: You must slow the head and neck down, not let it get to the extreme and bring it to a gradual stop. And you must do this with a device that allows for full AROM for the player for performance.
We’ll talk more in the future about ROM in the future when we discuss acceleration and deceleration of the brain from hits. As always, I invite you to connect with me to continue the discussion on this crucial aspect of player safety.
Guardian Athletics Manifesto
Concussion.The big, scary, 10-letter word. The fear of them is getting in the way of the protection of our athletes and the game we love.The game that’s been handed down through generations. The game that entire communities are built around.
But our game has been under attack because of legitimate safety concerns. And it ends now.
If youth participation continues to drop, where will the next generation of great players come from?
The first impact protected by helmets is only a part of the problem. Just as a sound structure is important in a car crash, without multiple airbags the results are catastrophic.
With innovative design and technology, the Kato Collar addresses the real problem, rapid acceleration and deceleration inside the helmet, protecting the brain from that secondary, often times more traumatic blow by 30%.
So let’s protect our players, protect the game and let them play. Safely.
In the fall of 1997, I was the head athletic trainer at the University of Wisconsin-Oshkosh. During this time, I had a football player named Greg Herlihy who suffered from repeated burner/stingers. Every time he got hit on the helmet it would force his head in a motion to his left and his left arm would go completely numb from the neck down. This would cause extreme shooting pain down his left upper extremity. This occurred numerous times during his career and progressively his recovery time from injuries would become longer. In fact, in his junior year, he could not attend practice for multiple weeks and had to miss his final game.
We performed as many diagnostic tests on him that we could; X-rays, MRI, bone scans and so on, and found no pathology (injury damage) that would keep him from returning to play. Up to this point, we had been trying to prevent the injury from occurring by using several different preventive/protective neck collars. Yet I could find none that would stop injury from occurring.
For the next eight months, we worked together to strengthen Greg’s neck and improve flexibility. I also placed him back in a traditional collar for prevention. Using a traditional collar, it must be positioned so the player can get their head up in their stance as well as keep their head up when making a tackle or block. If not, you set them up for an even more serious injury.
The second day of contact Greg took on a block from left outside linebacker in perfect position (head up, neck bowed, body in ready position and contact was made shoulder to shoulder, head to head on his right side. Greg’s head moved obliquely into extension, lateral rotation, and lateral flexion to the left. He immediately dropped to the ground as he had tingling, numbness and a sharp pain down his left upper extremity. As we walked off the field he said to me in frustration, “I can’t play football like this.” As his athletic trainer, I had no idea what to say to him, except whatever he decided I had his back.
I was so frustrated. I had tried everything I knew to try to prevent the injury; all the preventive collars, the necessary rehabilitation and treatment, and could not keep the injury from occurring. As I reflected upon this, I started to think about a more rounded collar, shaped like a half circle with something similar to a bicycle tire extending out from the collar. Over time I realized we put air pads in helmets. Why not a collar?
The sketches began. Brainstorming with colleagues. Talking to more players. This, my friends, is how Guardian Athletics began and I consider to be the birth of Kato Collar. It became clear that there were bigger issues facing the game of football than burner/stingers, and unfortunately, the industry wasn’t moving fast enough. There needed to be more products, training, and recovery techniques to protect players on the field.
We continued this innovative approach through a number of prototypes, and in late 2017 we started production on our current model, and begin shipping to teams in March 2018.