Syracuse (WSYR-TV) -- You won’t be able to see it, but the next time the SU football team takes the field a handful of players will be sporting cutting edge technology aimed at making the game safer.
The team is among the first in the nation to start using something called the Kerr Collar
to reduce neck and spinal injuries.
The collar was used for the first time by the team in a game this past weekend at Minnesota. Early reviews from three players using the collar have been positive.
"It’s very flexible in nature, it moves back and forth, side to side and it butts up to the side of the neck very comfortably,” explained SU Football Head Athletic Trainer Denny Kellington.
There’s just a little bit of padding with a regular set of shoulder pads, but with the Kerr Collar there’s more padding to fill in the gaps.
“Act like you're coming in to engage me, see how the shoulder pads rise up, shoulder pads rise up, the base of the helmet hits the Kerr Collar,” Kellington said as he demonstrated how the pads will help on the field.
The Kerr Collar eliminates some of the side-to-side motion that often times ends up causing what’s called a stinger or burner, which runs down your arm and leads to a numbness or tingling in your hands and fingers.
“When you receive a stinger, your shoulder pad goes down and you either pinch it from this side and stretch this side or vice versa and you'll create a stinger…but if you decrease that force and dissipate it away from the spinal cord, away from the neck you're decreasing the chance for injury,” Kellington continued.
The team just started using the collar for three players who have dealt with stingers, but Kellington says the plan is to increase its use on the field because of its effectiveness. He, like the doctor who invented it, caution it won’t prevent everything, but does help lessen the force applied to the neck.
“If you get hit on the top of the head, which is called Axial Loading, the sides of the helmet are going to hit the Kerr Collar, and in doing so, limits or spreads out that force,” Kellington said.
Kellington is not a spokesperson, but says he hopes coaches and trainers at all levels see how helpful the collar is and consider using it to reduce neck and spinal injuries. The collars range in price, depending on size from $129 to $149.
After nearly 10 years of research the Kerr Collar is just starting to be marketed and produced.