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Bombers star testing new protective gear aimed at preventing concussions

Winnipeg Blue Bombers linebacker Adam Bighill (4) knocks the ball loose from Ottawa Redblacks wide receiver Brad Sinopoli during overtime CFL action in Ottawa on Friday, Oct. 5, 2018.
Winnipeg Blue Bombers linebacker Adam Bighill (4) knocks the ball loose from Ottawa Redblacks wide receiver Brad Sinopoli during overtime CFL action in Ottawa on Friday, Oct. 5, 2018. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Adrian Wyld

With increased awareness about the danger of brain injuries in contact sports, some athletes are taking concussion prevention into their own hands.

Winnipeg Blue Bombers star linebacker Adam Bighill is testing out a new safety device called a Q Collar, which he says goes beyond what a helmet can do in terms of head safety.

“It’s pretty unique in the way it works,” Bighill told 680 CJOB. “The collar applies slight jugular compression, and what it does is it reserves about a teaspoon-and-a-half of blood back into the brain cavity.

“With that, you have more blood volume in the brain, therefore when you have sports-related impact, there’s less room for the brain to slosh around and smash into the skull.”

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Bighill said he first saw the collar being used during his time in the NFL, and became interested in learning more.

So far, he’s worn a Q Collar in two games with the Bombers, and said it’s not really an encumbrance on the field.

“At first you notice it a bit, because it’s a foreign object on your body like any other piece of equipment, but by the time you get out there on the field and play, you forget about it,” he said.

“Players are thinking about these things and it is an issue. The Q Collar is taking those steps to try to create some more peace of mind and really attack the problem in a different way.”

Bighill said the focus on safety in his sport has shifted drastically over the past few years, with a new emphasis on playing smart, tackling smart, and keeping your head up.

“This is my job, this is my passion, this is what I love to do,” he said.

“We understand the risks associated with that. It’s about me being smart, not putting myself at extra risk.

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