By Lori Ewing
(Reuters) – When Carter Hogg’s brother F.J. suffered a concussion that ended his football career and then spent agonizing months regaining his health, Carter was moved to study the causes of concussions in the hopes of finding a way to prevent them.
The 20-year-old from Dallas has developed a protective hood that is worn under the helmet and shoulder pads called G8RSkin that has received positive results in testing and he hopes can help eradicate head injuries, one of the biggest health concerns in sport.
“It was really difficult to see my brother go through the very long period of just getting back to where he was before that concussion,” Hogg said.
“That was a major motivating factor behind seeing if I could bring something new to the issue of concussions.”
F.J., a former linebacker at Washington and Lee University, has a photo of celebrating his team’s conference title in January of 2022 but remembers nothing of the game. He still has some vision problems but is otherwise recovered.
The five millimetre thick G8RSkin balaclava is intended to stabilize the neck and head and dissipate the energy from a hit. Testing at Virginia Tech’s Helmet Lab found it could reduce the risk of concussions by almost 60%.
Several teams in various levels from middle school to college are currently participating in a pilot programme, while Hogg, a sophomore defensive back at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, is wearing it this season.
“I would say it is the absence of pain or any sort of feeling from the sense of I hit somebody and my head hurts, that just doesn’t happen when you wear the G8RSkin,” he said. “I’ve now played two full games, and it felt awesome, laid a couple big hits and been completely fine, and I do honestly think it had a major impact with a couple of those hits.”
Concussions are one of the biggest issues in football. Miami Dolphins quarterback Tua Tagovailoa considered retiring from football over the concussions he suffered in the 2022, the distressing scenes of which rocked the NFL.
This week, G8RSkin appointed Jay Brunetti, the San Francisco 49ers’ director of equipment operations, along with three physicians to its medical advisory committee.
“It’s very exciting,” said committee member Dr. Charles Popkin, a team physician for USA Hockey and member of the USA Hockey National Safety and Protective Equipment Committee. “I think this product has the ability to change the game.”
While it is currently designed to be worn under helmets in sports such as hockey, lacrosse and downhill skiing, versions are being developed that could be used in rugby and other non-helmeted sports.
(Reporting by Lori Ewing; Editing by Christian Radnedge)