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Q-Collar is Minimizing TBIs in Professional & Youth Contact Sports

Author Thomas O'Rourke covers Q-Collar is Minimizing TBIs in Professional & Youth Contact Sports on BackTable MSK

Thomas O'Rourke • Jan 17, 2024 • 59 hits

As more and more evidence sheds light on the long-term dangers of traumatic brain injuries (TBIs), scientists and athletes alike are searching for ways to protect the delicate brain. Chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) has also gained traction as a problem particularly in football players due to many repeated collisions and blows to the head. Initially developed by the military, where soldiers also face repeated TBIs, the Q-Collar is a device designed to protect the brain from forcefully bouncing within the skull. The device applies a compressive force to the jugular veins, slightly decreasing the amount of blood flow returning to the body. This small increase in cranial blood volume provides extra cushioning that limits brain movement upon a forceful hit. Buffalo Bills’ safety Taylor Rapp shares his positive experience with wearing the Q-Collar, along with the importance of player safety in football. The Q-Collar’s positive impact has been demonstrated both scientifically and anecdotally, providing hope for a safer future in contact sports.

This article features excerpts from the BackTable MSK Podcast. We’ve provided the highlight reel in this article, and you can listen to the full podcast below.

The BackTable MSK Brief

• The Q-Collar was developed by a military physician to protect warfighters, but is increasingly used by professional athletes like Taylor Rapp to prevent brain injuries. Beyond football, the collar is being used in other sports like ski-racing and NASCAR, demonstrating its versatility in protecting against different types of head trauma.

• A large prospective cohort study of 500 high school athletes wearing the Q-Collar demonstrated significant differences in brain injury rates. 77% of athletes who wore the collar showed no evidence of shear injury, while 73% of athletes who did not wear the collar developed gray-white shearing injuries throughout the season.

• Discussion among players and coaches, as well as efforts to inform and educate young athletes and their guardians, are crucial for the wider adoption and understanding of the Q-Collar’s benefits. Physicians can also incentivize its use during sports physicals.

• Repeated TBIs can result in CTE. While long-term studies on the Q-Collar still need to be done, minimizing TBIs has the potential to significantly impact quality of life in retirement for players like Taylor Rapp.

Q-Collar is Minimizing TBIs in Professional & Youth Contact Sports

Table of Contents

(1) A “Seatbelt for the Brain”: The Science Behind the Q-Collar

(2) Peewees to Pros: The Role of Q-Collar in Youth & Professional Sports

(3) Q-Collar’s Impact on Life After Sports

A “Seatbelt for the Brain”: The Science Behind the Q-Collar

Originally developed by a military physician to decrease the TBIs among soldiers, the Q-Collar is becoming more popular in the football community. Dr. Olan compares the collar to a “seatbelt for the brain.” The collar slightly decreases venous return from the brain, increasing the amount of fluid surrounding the brain. This additional fluid prevents the brain from bouncing inside the skull upon impact, thus decreasing the risk of TBI.

Taylor Rapp says that he often feels better after long practice sessions and doesn’t face a stigma from his teammates for wearing it. This reflects both the collar’s effectiveness and changing attitudes towards safety in the NFL. In addition to Rapp’s positive experience, a study consisting of 500 high school athletes wearing the Q-Collar was conducted. There was a significant decrease in brain injury rates among players wearing the collar, demonstrating its efficacy.

[Dr. Dana Dunleavy]
Why don't I ship back to Taylor and say what was athletics like for you growing up and when did you think about utilizing Q-Collar and have you had any head injuries yourself?

[Taylor Rapp]
Yes, I've played sports my whole life growing up. I had an older brother, very sports-centric family. We both played baseball and football growing up, kind of early on played all sports, but as we grew older, narrowed it down to baseball and football, and just took off of football. Baseball was actually my first love, ended up giving it up and then trying to focus on football, ended up getting recruited, playing in college, and then here I am now.

I actually started wearing the Q-Collar first the first season was all last season, I did suffer a brain injury two years ago when the Rams won Super Bowl 2021, I had a pretty bad concussion and my agent actually, he actually heard about the Q-Collar and he just showed me it, forwarded me along and told me all about it and just all off season just did a little more research I guess, a little more playing around with it. I actually bought one, just wearing it around trying to see if I can wear it during the season and ended up wearing it all last season and I still wear it now.

I can't go out there on the football field without wearing the collar. It's basically like a helmet to me now. I can't walk out of the locker room to go out to the practice field without my collar.

[Dr. Dana Dunleavy]
Yes, and so that gets us to some of the common questions as myself when I was 10 years old and we started wearing helmets and ski racing, I was hazed pretty heavily at that time. Now you couldn't imagine a kid in a ski race without a helmet or even on the slopes. Any difficulty in terms of when you got started, people giving you trouble for it?

[Taylor Rapp]
No, not at all. I would actually say more so on the flip side, guys are always weird about their style and swag, and more so people asking me like, "Hey, what's that thing around your neck. That thing looks cool. What does it do?" or stuff like that. I would say probably more so on that side, the positive side rather than the negative side.

[Dr. Dana Dunleavy]
Fantastic. As you noted, it's a synergistic relationship between you and your agent. Wayne's spoken about that before, what is the cost, for instance, of a military warrior and both high-level athletes and the military, the worst thing that could happen is an injury. Anything you want to address with that, Wayne?

[Dr. Wayne Olan]
Yes. At the end of the day, that's where the birth of the collar comes from. Collar is a military device. It was born in the military. It was developed by a military physician, and it was developed to protect our war fighters, Special Forces, protect our war fighters. Taylor does it every day. He's doing the same thing every day. It was a synergistic movement into sports as you got into some of the sports where head injuries are much more prevalent or even much more assumed.

You have a lot of sports now including like your ski racing and sliding and NASCAR driving where people utilizing the collar and finding the benefit there as well not just from this the one on-head injury but from vibration and other things where you can minimize brain movement. Clearly, this thing was born on the battlefield and it has found its way onto the football field, which is essentially a natural progression.

[Dr. Dana Dunleavy]
We'll get a little nerdy here. Can you teach us a little bit about functional MRI or DTI?

[Dr. Wayne Olan]
Yes, so we can teach a little bit about that. That's where the study was. You got to, eventually, you have to look at something and prove its value, right? You can't just say, "Hey, put this on, it looks like a good idea." That's where the study was done, using DTI imaging. What you did is look for white matter lesions. You had to also find a group of athletes that in theory or you hope probably don't have any. That's why the studies were centered in high school athletes.

You basically have 500 athletes, half wear a collar, half don't. You all got MRIs before the season, all got MRIs after the season. They even had MRIs carried out for two to three years out after. This was done at St. Xavier High School in Cincinnati, Cincinnati Children's Hospital. 70% of the athletes who wore the collar, this number is striking, right? 77% of athletes who wore the collar had no changes. You understand this statement of a shear injury, where your gray and your white matter come together. That's where the brain is almost the most susceptible to motion injury, shear injuries where it could turn and it could tear, because those two portions of the brain are anchored differently and they will accelerate differently when the brain is either accelerating or decelerating.

70% of the athletes at the end of the year had no changes who were wearing the collar. If you weren't wearing the collar, these are high school athletes now, remember, this isn't college or professional. 73% of those athletes had gray-white shearing injuries that they didn't have at the beginning of the year. That's a striking number if it's your child. That was where the birth of it came from. Obviously, a lot of animal studies and stuff like that before, but at the end of the day, when you see a number like that with a device that carries no risk, hard to discount that data on a sample size that large.

[Dr. Dana Dunleavy]
Yes, and I think, let's switch to that, the no risk. I think Taylor was alluding to that a little bit, but it was even studied, right, of looking at people's cognitive ability, visual acuity. Taylor, sounds like you did your own testing, so to speak, as well, right, to see how you felt before and after wearing it at home, wearing it at training?

[Taylor Rapp]
Yes, definitely. I would say one of the biggest effects and change that I felt wearing it all last season and then wearing it all this season, as well, is how well I feel after I play a game or after I have a practice that I wear with contact. In previous years, without wearing the collar, like you'd make a couple tackles and, I mean these-- football is like every tackle is like a car crash.

Before I started wearing the collar, your neck would get so sore the day after a game or practice where you had contact, your shoulders, your traps, everything. Ever since I started wearing the collar, I noticed one huge change in how I felt the next day, the next morning after the game or after contact training camp practice where we had a lot of contact and stuff like that. That's been the biggest change and I feel great the next morning, next day.

[Dr. Dana Dunleavy]
That's fantastic. Wayne, do you want to speak to a little bit how they studied that specifically?

[Dr. Wayne Olan]
Well, that aspect is when you look at studies-wise is really in the works, right? Because the studies that got the FDA clearance were based on games. The military now, and we just got a $3 million grant through the military and doing some much longer range studies for much longer wears than just an NFL game or a college game or high school game. They have to evaluate stuff. If you have a sharpshooter, he's a Navy SEAL or he's a Delta Force Warrior, at the end of a 12-hour shift, he has to fill out an evaluation form. There's no doubt that we're seeing that military fighters are testing as good as they did at the end of a shift as they did earlier in the shift, which is a huge change to the guys who aren't wearing the collar. That's anecdotal right now, but it will at one point become part of the literature, that's for sure.

[Dr. Dana Dunleavy]
Maybe you could address on another level then would say, so why does this work, right? You use your woodpecker analogy and why is that not a problem?

[Dr. Wayne Olan]
Okay, well, first and foremost, it works by basically, and the idea behind it is to stabilize the brain inside your skull. How do you do that? If you increase the size of your veins, which are between the brain and the skull, not deep inside, you can then minimize the movement. The best analogy is almost like putting on a seatbelt, right? You now basically put a seatbelt on your brain so you can't move inside your skull when your brain, your body, your skull, everything accelerates and decelerates at very high velocities. That's all it does.

The reason why it's not significant clinically just to wear it, because it's not an occlusion. It's just a 30% diminished in venous return. It's one and a half pounds of pressure. It's exactly the same pressure as wearing a necktie. If Taylor's at a game during church and the game breaks out, he's protected. It's the same exact thing. Basically, all you're doing is kinking. You're not occluding, and that's very important because people like to mischaracterize that. You're not occluding the jugular vein. You're just kinking it a little bit and slowing the blood out. It's not more than a teaspoon or a couple of teaspoons of blood that it takes.

We have MRIs that show the different size of your venous sinuses, the collar on and the collar off. It's not subtle. Basically, that's what it does. It holds your brain steady inside of your skull. That's why you think about vibrations or anything like that. Or if you're a NASCAR driver, you're making left turns, 200 miles an hour, where your brain's getting pushed against one side of your skull the entire race. There may be a benefit there as well. Your brain is held a little tighter on the inside. It's been shown in nature as well to be helpful. It seems like it's starting to pan out here. We're just trying to spread the word.

Listen to the Full Podcast

Q Collar: Protecting the Brain from Impact with Taylor Rapp and Dr. Wayne Olan on the BackTable MSK Podcast)
Ep 35 Q Collar: Protecting the Brain from Impact with Taylor Rapp and Dr. Wayne Olan
00:00 / 01:04

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Peewees to Pros: The Role of Q-Collar in Youth & Professional Sports

The increasing prevalence of Q-Collar usage in the NFL underscores a growing awareness and acceptance of its protective benefits among professional athletes. This trend is crucial for influencing broader adoption in various sports, especially in youth sports. Given the vulnerability of young athletes’ growing brains, the collar’s potential for brain protection in this population is significant. Wearing safety equipment can often carry a stigma, especially in youth sports. Seeing professional athletes wear safety equipment destigmatizes its use, making young people more likely to comply. As this technology becomes more accessible, it could become the new standard of safety in football across all age groups.

[Dr. Dana Dunleavy]
Taylor, anyone you want to mention in terms of your friends at the collegiate level or NFL level that have either had head injuries or are wearing this and their thoughts?

[Taylor Rapp]
Yes. I've had several teammates, colleagues, guys across the league that I know of that all have been wearing Q-Collar ever since last season. Coming on this season, I think it's become more prevalent in the NFL world, especially this season as well, just seeing the amount of guys wearing the Q-Collar and stuff and just having conversations around the locker room and everyone wanting to try it and wanting to see and ask questions about it.

At one point, I think we had about four or five guys, I think right now with the Bills right now, guys who wear it on a consistent basis. You saw Dalton Kincaid, the star tight end got drafted out of Utah. He actually suffered a brain injury earlier this season. He started wearing the Q-Collar, and I think that's going to be an essential piece of his equipment moving forward now. It's just amazing to see. Like I said, like Wayne, we're just trying to spread the word. I think this game means so much to me and means so much to everyone. Everyone's trying to figure out how we can make it more sustainable, more safe for everyone, and I think the Q-Collar is a big piece to that.

[Dr. Dana Dunleavy]
As a member of the mafia, like you were saying, for personal success reasons, we want you guys to stay healthy. You've also seen the mafia has really come out just in ways that have nothing to do with the success of the team, but just caring about the players. I think everyone was noticing your great play, Kincaid's great play. What is this new cool color that people are wearing? Because are there some fines that can go with you if you don't wear the right colors?

[Taylor Rapp]
That's a whole another world. We're talking about with the NFL fines and stuff. It's a little bit of controversy. I'm not going to touch on it too much, but there's some uniform fines that are pretty egregious out there. Q-Collar, actually, they have all different color sleeves and everything. As long as we stick to blue, red, white, or black, we should be fine, especially with the Q-Collar sleeves as well.

[Dr. Dana Dunleavy]
Any involvement? I'll switch to Wayne after this, but, Taylor, you still have a massive impact on all the young athletes coming up in the world. Some NFL players have said that they wish that they had this when they were a kid. Any thoughts you have for kids playing football, lacrosse, or soccer right now? Do you influence them at all?

[Taylor Rapp]
Yes. Like you said, I wish I had this. I wish the collar was more out there when I was growing up and playing. I think that's where it starts. I think that's where, hopefully, guys like me and us just trying to spread the movement, trying to get it to the youth sports, because I think that's where it starts. That's where it's really important, especially for the younger kids who are playing tackle football and don't necessarily have the experience or technique on how to tackle. That's where it's most important to do everything they can to protect their brain. Just trying to get it out there and try to get it out in the youth contact sports as much as possible is definitely important.

[Dr. Dana Dunleavy]
Wayne, you want to touch on it too, as a father and as a coach?

[Dr. Wayne Olan]
For me, he stuck on the two, right? In a pros, it's obviously one thing, but the best ability is being available, be available. In college, if he had a head injury, if he's in high school, school doesn't stop, his brain still growing. You hate to see a growing brain get injured, but school doesn't stop. You can't sit in a dark room for three weeks, not look at his phone, not look at his computer.

Most of our team now at the high school I coach is wearing it. Once you adapt to it, and there's a little bit of peer pressure, but as he stated, it's positive, not negative. You look around the locker room and you're like, "This guy's doing everything he can to stay on the field. This guy should maybe think about doing that." That's where we're at with it. I just want to give everybody the opportunity to take a look at it. Nobody wants to change his game, where we all played it. Like Taylor said, "Man, everybody loves the game," but without changing it, can we make it safer? Maybe we can.

[Dr. Dana Dunleavy]
Again, not to get too crazy, but again, can you go back a little bit to Cincinnati Children's and just talk a little bit about the details. As Taylor nicely noted, the way that he makes a hit is like a car accident. DTI is what people think about, right? When we talk about that form of injury, we're talking about looking at patients after a car accident, coup, contrecoup, various types of details like that. Maybe you can explain a little bit more what a white matter changes mean?

[Dr. Wayne Olan] Well, one is they don't always measure clinically. Much more subtle necessarily than a clinical change or something that somebody would admit to. A white matter change shows that your brain has undergone trauma. At the end of the day, just so we're clear, we didn't just study or the study just didn't include football players. It was football, hockey, lacrosse, girls and boys, soccer as well, girls soccer. There's data that came out in Europe showing that if you're a professional women's soccer player, your risk of dementia is significantly increased, like x by x factors. Those are frightening things.

In soccer, they talk about not letting youth kids head the ball, just for that reason to protect the youth. The reason why you study children is they should not have white matter injuries. Your assumption is that you're dealing with a clean brain at that point. Now, you talk about the number of kids that came out of high school with documented and visible, not subtle, visible brain injury, even if it wasn't clinically significant, makes you really think twice because you just keep doing it over, repeating it. The repetitive head injury, that's where the risk really is.

Everybody sees somebody get blown up once and that's [unintelligible 00:22:54] over and over and over again. Like cigarette smoking, like suntanning, like all those things where maybe smoking one cigarette isn't terrible, but a thousand hits to your frontal lobe, they start adding up. The correlations and things like that, long-term effects, people talk about them. If there's a way we can hopefully help out and make everything safe for nobody. You're not stopping bumped skiing, Dana. I know you.

[Dr. Dana Dunleavy]
Speed is what I need.

[Dr. Wayne Olan]
You might want to try and put a collar on when you do it.

[Dr. Dana Dunleavy]
That's right. I don't know if you can address this, Wayne, but I don't think people realize there are studies, 2014, 2016, 2017, 2018, there's quite a lot of data on Q-Collar, how did financially all that get accomplished?

[Dr. Wayne Olan]
Well, very good question. The company has not paid for a single study. Obviously, you got to supply collars. You get past that. Every single study that's been done was by an independent evaluator, every single one. The ones at Emory, the ones at Cincinnati, everything you looked at is by an independent evaluator. There's no bias in that respect. Obviously, a study that got FDA clearance, that also was done without bias by the evaluators. It's hard to look at it and say, "Well, we bias somebody by paying for it because nobody was." There're at least 25 peer reviewed studies, as you see, since 2014. Not one of them has an evaluator who was, as you say, potentially biased.

[Dr. Dana Dunleavy]
Taylor, I give this one to you, but you can turf it if you want. One of the things that a couple of coaches have asked me is, "I want to order these for my kids and also for the athletes on my team, but I don't really understand the sizing and that makes me nervous. That's the one way I wonder if I could harm them. Can you explain how the sizing works?

[Taylor Rapp]
Yes, it's actually pretty simple, actually. In every Q-Collar package they actually have a little sizer. Basically, you guesstimate what your size will be. The package actually comes with a little sizer. I think actually, Wayne, you can correct me if I'm wrong, but before you actually buy, you can buy like a sizing kit.

[Dr. Wayne Olan]
There are a couple ways of doing it. You could do it that way or you could just take a string, wrap it around your neck. It's a very thin string, like you imagined yourself for a dress shirt. Exactly like if you went to the tailor, Dana. You go to the tailor, you get measured for a dress shirt. Intuitively, though, it would sound like if the collar is slightly uncomfortable, a bigger one would be more comfortable, but that's not the case.

[Taylor Rapp]
I got messed up with that because I thought I needed a bigger one, but I actually needed a smaller one.

[Dr. Wayne Olan]
You needed a smaller one, because-

[Taylor Rapp]
Yes, correct.

[Dr. Wayne Olan]
-they're aware the discomfort comes from the collar. It's not its pressure on your sternocleidomastoid, but it's if it scrapes your trachea. If it scrapes your trachea, it's really too big. You really want that, as Taylor would tell you the same thing, it's like a two-inch gap here that let your trachea stand on its own. It's easy to do, and then if say somehow you went online and bought one for your daughter, she's driving a sled for team USA and the next Olympics, you send it back, they'll send you another one.

Now, we're starting to see as teams are starting to become more educated and apt, there are a whole sizing kits you can put in locker rooms. Like our high school locker room has a sizing kit. We have one collar of almost every size. A kid gets to try one, boom, off the shelf it comes, onto it goes a prep sleeve, as Taylor said, either a blue one or a silver one. They're fairly easy to do, but the big takeaway with the sizing is if it's the wrong size, chances are it's too big.

[Dr. Dana Dunleavy]
Let's take that a little further. It sounds like you've already done what I was thinking is the appropriate thing. Is there a way to get the sizing in the hands of the coaches in the region?

[Dr. Wayne Olan]
Well, there is. It's not even really the coaches, you go in the training rooms and the training rooms areas. They would get a pack. The company has a sizing pack, so there'll be a collar of every size. Players can come in and try them. A lot of schools and teams now keeping some inventory on the shelf. You just pull off the one and then the kid could try it for a while and you could wash them, so someone else-- they're made out of Fitbit plastic so they're used to being rubbed up against. Some people like the way the sleeve feel, some people like the way the plastic feels. That's just more of a difference. The plastic ones are black, and then for the military, it comes in four different types of camo, because obviously, the plastic ones have some fluorescent green on them, Seattle Seahawks green and you can't have that out of the dark in the desert, so that will be bad.

[Dr. Dana Dunleavy]
Taylor, do you want one of these or 20 of these? What do you think is the right number?

[Taylor Rapp]
How many do I own?

[Dr. Dana Dunleavy]
Yes, I think that's the thing, right? As you're wondering, gee, it's got that stinky–

[Taylor Rapp]
I know in the locker room I have-- well, no, I mean I actually don't really wash it because I wear a sleeve basically every game. Then I just toss the sleeve and use that sleeve as the barrier. I've used the same collar all season for every game.

[Dr. Wayne Olan]
Dana, there's a spring in the back, I didn't mean to interrupt. The spring lasts for at least three to four years. Most athletes, because they're still growing, will grow out of their collar long before the collar ever breaks. The collar also, if we add one will straighten all the way, if God forbid, you ever take it off to somebody. You know what I mean? It can come off easily in the face of needing to take it off. The collar itself, you're only going to need one. You're more likely to lose it than outgrow it. You're more likely for your trainer not to pack it in your bag than you are to not have it.

As he says, it's his helmet now. It's the same. For the guys we have playing, it's the same way. They don't step on the field with without it now. It's like the last thing they put on.

[Taylor Rapp]
Sorry to interrupt you, Wayne-

[Dr. Wayne Olan]
No, no worries, Dana.

[Taylor Rapp]
-but like you said right there, as our equipment guys are packing our game bags, if we're going on the road or even when we're at home, they pack the bags and take them down to the locker room, that's one thing that I make sure every time like cleats, helmet, shoulder pads, everything, they make sure that's in there, but I make sure every time before I send it off, I hand it off or I confirm that it's good that my collar is in there. That's like just an essential piece of equipment. I don't think I could play a game right now without the collar. That's how much it's part of my equipment and it's how much it's important to me.

[Dr. Dana Dunleavy]
That's great to hear. Just to take it a level further, if you're a cyclist or if you ride horses, the general rule is if anything touches your helmet, you replace it. Is there any thought with that, these are designed that if they have any type of impact or damage, they need to be replaced or they're pretty durable?

[Dr. Wayne Olan]
We haven't seen any of that. First of all, they're military grade, and you mentioned horse riding, the US equestrian team has them, interestingly, but they're US military. They are. This thing is born on the battlefield. We've said it already. You could throw it out of the plane. You could take it down to 200 feet below sea level. You could light it on fire. Nothing's happening to it. If it touches his helmet, it's going to be fine. It can touch a military helmet. You don't need to throw it out. They are military grade. They are made to be worn in battle.

Q-Collar’s Impact on Life After Sports

One of Mr. Rapp’s most important points is that he wants to be there to take care of his family once he finishes his career in the NFL. Wearing the Q-Collar gives him peace of mind that he will be capable of doing so in the future. Not only does he feel better after practice and games, but he’ll ideally have fewer long-lasting neurological effects from the repeated hits. Many athletes who experience brain injury will often have chronic headaches and neurological pain. There is also hope that the Q-Collar can lessen the need for prescription painkillers, thus limiting the potential for misuse, and improving long-term quality of life.

[Dr. Dana Dunleavy]
Then, Taylor, maybe you could just go back to some big hits. We know you make some big tackles and another guy like you, right? Rodney Harrison has talked about some of the long-term impacts for him in terms of head injuries. Do you talk to him or others that have suffered long term with the game?

[Taylor Rapp]
I mean, no, I haven't. I haven't talked to Rodney. I've briefly spoke to Luke Kuechly. I know he was a big forefront guy, proponent, that started and launched to launch this whole collar. Like you said, at the end of the day, football is football. I'm not going to change the way I play. Hopefully, like Wayne touched on, hopefully we can change or, no, make things safer within the game. We're not going to change how the game's played, change the rules or anything like that.

Just like with everything, I'm going to do everything I can. I'm big in terms of doing everything I can. The 1%, I'm doing everything right. This is one big thing that I'll continue to keep doing. It's kept me safe for the last two years. Sometimes it can be a violent game. Like I said, every tackle seems like a car crash. Just to have the peace of mind of having the collar to give me that extra protection, that extra peace of mind to play free and play the game the way the game's meant to be played is it means everything.

[Dr. Wayne Olan]
When you hear someone like him say it, too, and I know him. He puts so much effort into recovery. He puts so much effort into what he eats, how he trains, right? Why wouldn't you do whatever you could to protect yourself as well without having to change anything? He doesn't notice it. He doesn't feel it, but he's doing everything he can to make sure he's on that field for as long as he can play.

[Dr. Dana Dunleavy]
Yes. Thinking long term on that, too, there's been various discussions about, NFL players and opioid use and various other techniques to handle pain after the games coming up soon. a colleague of mine that started it's called the MATTERS organization to reduce opioid overdoses. CNN's coming to town to do an interview about that because it's been so successful in New York to reduce hospitalizations and again, complications with medications. Have either of you can take this one, discuss that this plays a role at all in the long term impact of reducing systemic medications?

[Dr. Wayne Olan]
If you think about what we're trying-- repetitive head injury, right? That's what you're trying to-- so you're talking about headaches, talking about the long-term effects, most of that, in theory, there's going to be a whole different set of issues, as well as risk and as well as outcomes. We're trying to keep guys like him, their cognition stable and uniform throughout his life. He's a young kid right now, but he's got life after this, right? He's going to have a family. He's going to have a wife. He's going to have kids. He wants to play around with them. He wants to get on the ground or roll around with them and do all that stuff and be able to be the husband and be the father that he dreamed of being. I think whether the medications or whatever will be involved in it, I think this, it gives him the best opportunity to play the career that he dreamed about without it stopping, but then going out to live the life that he's dreaming about as well that his career is going to enable him to do.

[Dr. Dana Dunleavy]
Taylor, anything on that, whether be you personally or other guys that are dealing with chronic pain or headaches?

[Taylor Rapp]
Yes. Wayne touched on it, just having the peace of mind of just wearing the collar and having the peace of mind of doing everything I can to ensure that future that Wayne is talking about, that my future kids that I'll be a big part in their lives and be the husband that I've always dreamed of being like Wayne said. Because like you said, there's life after football, this football, this game is such a short period of life. I'll still have three quarters of my life after I'm done playing. Just knowing that I'm doing everything I can by wearing the collar, it just gives me that extra peace of mind. I hopefully won't have to go down that path that you talked about with medications, opioids, all that.

[Dr. Dana Dunleavy]
Sounds great. I think, why don't we give you guys each opportunity for closing remarks? What you think this could have as an impact both for friends, colleagues, and kids growing up?

[Dr. Wayne Olan]
Well, I'll start because I think his statement is going to be more powerful at the end, but at the end of the day, this is about protecting yourself, but being part of protecting the legacy and watching guys be able to go out and do-- kids, forget the sport, it's not just about football, it's not just about lacrosse, not about hockey, soccer. I think you're finding that the uses for this are much, much greater than people even imagined.

Then on top of that, one of the hugest privileges we have is protecting our warfighters, to know that we're doing something to protect the guys who are protecting us, you can't even put a price or a pride level on that. You get to see it play out on Sundays, but you don't know about the guy who's dug in a foxhole or sitting up in a stand somewhere and he's out the one out protecting us when we're not watching.

I think the opportunity to do something like this is such a privilege for me and to watch Taylor go out and do his thing every Sunday to the level that he does it, and knowing that at night he can go home and he doesn't have to shake it off, so to speak, and he's not getting his belt wrong, he can be the kid, be the player, be the man he wants to be, I can't even describe the privileges for me to be part of this.

[Taylor Rapp]
Yes. Like Wayne said, it's all about the future. Like you said at the start of this, I'm not getting paid to do this. It's all about spreading the word and trying to get the word out about this thing because I think it's so powerful. I think it can, this is drastic, but I think it could change the world and everything, not only sports, like Wayne said. I think it just, the potential it has to change everything, change all these games, change the youth, change everything. I think it's all about the future.

Like Wayne said, it means the world to me, for me to be able to speak on it and being a guy that has worn it and been through it, had a severe brain injury two years ago and ever since never played a game without the collar and how much of it's an essential piece of equipment for me now. I think it means the world to me that I can speak on it and hopefully spread the word to everyone and try to get this thing out there as much as possible.

[Dr. Dana Dunleavy]
Beautiful. Love it. Again, we're extremely grateful to have you in this town, and I think you've seen the mafias out there in the rain and the snow and at the airport waiting when your flights are delayed. Even whether it's an injury on the Bills or whether there's something related to the Bills on a team somewhere else, that the support is pretty strong. I know that they're all thankful to see you and listen to you and look forward to watching you at the next game.

[Taylor Rapp]: Appreciate it, man. Thanks for having me on.

Podcast Contributors

Taylor Rapp discusses Q Collar: Protecting the Brain from Impact on the BackTable 35 Podcast

Taylor Rapp

Taylor Rapp is a defensive safety for the Buffalo Bills of the National Football League.

Dr. Wayne Olan discusses Q Collar: Protecting the Brain from Impact on the BackTable 35 Podcast

Dr. Wayne Olan

Dr. Wayne Olan is the director of Interventional and Endovascular Neurosurgery at the GW Medical Faculty Associates/GW Hospital and is an associate professor at The George Washington University School of Medicine and Health Sciences.

Dr. Dana Dunleavy discusses Q Collar: Protecting the Brain from Impact on the BackTable 35 Podcast

Dr. Dana Dunleavy

Dr. Dana Dunleavy is a musculoskeletal and vascular IR in Buffalo, New York.

Cite This Podcast

BackTable, LLC (Producer). (2023, November 21). Ep. 35 – Q Collar: Protecting the Brain from Impact [Audio podcast]. Retrieved from https://www.backtable.com

Disclaimer: The Materials available on BackTable.com are for informational and educational purposes only and are not a substitute for the professional judgment of a healthcare professional in diagnosing and treating patients. The opinions expressed by participants of the BackTable Podcast belong solely to the participants, and do not necessarily reflect the views of BackTable.

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