Finally, some new gear for people with severe head and neck injuries.
An undergraduate team of three mechanical engineering students and three biomedical engineering students have redesigned the common cervical collar to provide better stabilization for the head and neck of accident victims. The inspiration for the HeadCase cervical collar came from Dr. John Hipp a former director of the Spine Research Laboratory at Baylor College of Medicine.
Dr. Hipp and his colleagues published a paper in 2010 in The Journal of Trauma and Acute Care Surgery reporting abnormal separation between vertebrae in cervical collar users. The HeadCase collar aims to prevent this separation by providing a greater degree of immobilization. Where existing collars are wrapped around the neck, the HeadCase provides support to the cheeks, chest and top of the back.
A provisional patent has been filed for the device, which is currently being evaluated using accelerometers to quantify the degree of immobility it provides. The disposable HeadCase won't hit the market for some time yet, however the team expects it to cost less than $15, a typical cost of existing cervical collars of which 15 million are used each year in the U.S. alone.
This post also appears on medGadget, an Atlantic partner site.