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Consequences of concussion

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Concussions are often identified as TBI (traumatic brain injury) that is caused by the head moving rapidly back and forth that affects up to 3.8 million Americans a year. The aftermath of a concussion can cause the loss of balance, migraines, short-term memory loss, sensitivity to light and sound, and upset stomach. Doctors suggest that concussions can be prevented by properly educating players, coaches, and parents, and implementing stricter laws in the sports games. Several themes were presented in an interview from athletes that have experienced a concussion during a sport. The first take away is that concussion is not taken as seriously as other injuries. Second take away is that athletes put all of their trust into their protective gear. The third insight is that coaches, parents, and players are not informed enough of the importance of a concussion and the consequences that can follow if not treated properly.

Therefore, a Jaw Joint Science Institute (JJSI) developed a mouth guard that ultimately protects athletes from a concussion upon an impact. The way this product differs from a traditional mouth guard is that it fits perfectly for every mouth and locks the bottom jaw in place during an impact that reduced the risk of brain moving back and forth during an impact. Although, this product is patented, similar mouth guards already exist on the market with slightly different technology, but are made to serve the same purpose. To properly penetrate the market this mouth guard can be marketed as Shock-Fit, sold to school districts, and be in a partnership with a larger brand like Nike. This could create trust in the product, as Nike is a developed brand, and the research done by JJSI could be part of the marketing campaign for Nike. Concussions are often identified as TBI (traumatic brain injury) that is caused by the head moving rapidly back and forth. For most cases, doctors will label these injuries as mild as they are not life threatening, but they can indeed, leave some negative implications on the person health. Most leading causes of concussions seen in emergency departments are from falls, motor vehicle injury, unintentionally being struck by or against and obstacle, assaults and playing sports (US Department of Health, 3).

Research done by Dr. Sarah K Field, from Ohio State University, claims that concussions rate among US High school and College athletes is second largest to motor vehicle crashes among people aged 15 to 24. The research showed that out of 100 US high schools and 180 US colleges, concussions accounted for 8.9% of all high school athletic injuries, and 5.8% of all college athlete injuries. Most concussions occurred in football and soccer in both groups. Dr. Field suggests that increasing the knowledge of concussions and how to prevent them could reduce concussion rates, patterns, and risk factors. Preventing concussions will depend from an activity to an activity, for example, in football, wearing protective gear like a helmet will highly decrease your chances of a concussion, but not prevent them completely, but in a sport like soccer, being smart and knowledgeable about concussions will help you prevent contact, although it won’t be always avoidable. According to an article from the US News, multiple legal statements have been introduced into the US sports, especially for children to reduce concussions. For example, bumping the ball off the head in soccer, or restricted checking for boys in hockey who are under age of 15 (Costa).

Some experts suggest that the impact itself is not the worst, it’s what happens after (Meehan). The National Athletic Trainers’ Association claims that introducing neck muscle strengthening to variety of contact sports can highly decrease the chance of a concussion. An athlete with stronger neck muscles may be able o take control of the whiplash like movement reducing the likeliness of a concussion (Costa). The AAP has come up with several recommendations of how to prevent concussions, in conclusion it is in hands of coaches, education, and players themselves. The Jaw Joint Science Institute (JJSI) have been studying injury patterns associated to concussions and how the movement of jaw can affect the magnitude of the concussion. The JJSI claims that the force of the lower jaw impact that causes a concussion also fractures the temporal bones in the jaw joint space, if this is solved, it could reduce the pain and suffering of many concussions. To fix this, JJSI developed a product in partnership with doctors and using 3D imaging technology that could prevent these jaw joint fractures that lead to a concussion. The Product developed by JJSI is called Product JX, it is patented mouth guard, that can safely adapt to all mouth sizes.

It can be custom fitted in 3 minutes by using the boil and bite procedure, and when properly inserted it will stabilize and lock the lower jaw in to a position. It is also designed to have the maximum ability for breathing and clear verbal communication, which would eliminate the need to remove it from the mouth which sets it apart from tradition mouth pieces. The JJSI has a set a price of $65/unit and is meant to be sold only to B2B markets and no to individual consumers. The JJSI is not the only one with custom fit mouth guards and technology that is targeted to prevent concussions. According to the Military Medicine, up to now, most initiatives to prevent concussions have been external, just like buying and wearing a helmet. A product like PX3 Bite Regulator developed by Sports Science takes a very different approach to solve this problem, rather than external, it is internal, and just like JJSI Product JX focuses on jaw joints. This product can be an addition to a helmet, or a substitute for those that do not wear helmets in their sports, such as soccer. PX3’s approach focuses on a cluster of internal physiological variable and enhancing the highly completely interrelationship between the respiratory, musculoskeletal, and neurological systems to proactively improve the athlete’s individual’s ability to better prepare absorb, or completely avoid an impact on the field” (Military Medicine, 510-515). There are several aspects of how this mouthpiece differs from a regular mouthpiece. According to Military Medicine, research shows, that a large factor for concussion is fatigue during the performance.

As many sports mouth guards are not focused on breathing, this can make the athlete fatigue and lower their awareness that can lead to a concussion. PX3 on the other hand, is specially made to increase athlete’s ability to breath as well as protect the mouth and head. Most traditional mouth guards are also only made to fit the top teeth and have a smooth opposing bite surface for the bottom teeth. This can create a greater jaw misalignment and instability which can further allow the jaw to slam into the skull during contact (Military Medicine, 510-515). The way PX3 is designed is that it is custom made to every athlete’s mouth. It is three dimensionally fitted so it would not only allow oxygen to flow in, but also to align and lock in the opposing teeth to stabilize the jaw during an impact. There are also several other products that are on the market that compete in the mouth guard industry. Fit Guard is another example of a mouth guard that has a positioning statements that claims that it protects against extreme concussions. Q Collar mouth guard claims that it stabilizes the brain during impact, therefore can reduce the risk of a concussion.

Another product made by Shock Doctor states that the mouth guard can be fit for all ages and mouth sizes, it has flavoring to it, it also included lip protection, and even fits users that have braces. It also comes with $10k dental warranty, in case the user is hurt while wearing the mouth guard. Although some of these products are not specifically intended to reduce the risk of concussions, some of them have technology to do so, making them good competitors. An interview with 2 athletes and a doctor was conducted to better understand the effects on concussion by someone that is at risk or has experienced concussion that could later be used for JX product development. One of the athletes was a soccer player, while the other one played football, both had suffered concussions. The doctor worked at urgent care and often had people come in with concussions, especially from accidental or sports injuries.

They all overall had a common theme on concussions, even though concussion had occurred, both of the athletes went back into the game, and the doctor confirmed that this is often the case. The first interview was conducted with a football player named Dan, he had played football for 3 years in high school level, and most injuries he reported were quite common such as sprained ankles, bruising, torn muscles, head injuries etc., but what caught attention is that he did not report a head injury right away. Rather than saying that “yes, I’ve had a concussion”, it was more of “I’ve experienced some tough tackles”. Dan also mentioned that after every tackle he would get up, and get back into the game without checking out his head. After performing secondary research, some doctor’s claimed that this is the biggest issue in contact sports, it’s not the impact itself, but rather what happens afterward. If the player’s experiences multiple tackles a game and does not get it checked out, this can lead to a serious damage further down the line. Dan also mentioned that he switches his equipment every year/season, but also believes that helmet and body padding protects him completely from injuries, making himself “invincible” which is a known thing done by athletes that wear protective gear. Dan also claimed that being a smart player, knowing the game, and playing it clean is the best way to avoid concussions and injuries which is also what some experts said during secondary research.

When the interview went deeper into the discussion of protective gear, Dan claimed that he wears a mouth guard, but primarily to protect his mouth and tongue. He did not provide any additional information of how he thinks a mouth guard could protect him from a concussion. The second interview was conducted with a soccer player named Navneet, he had been playing soccer for nearly 7 years and had experienced some injuries over time. He was most afraid of muscle tears, broken bones, or sprained ankles during soccer, but never mentioned head injuries as one of his fears. Although he did not mention a concussion or a head injury as a fear of his, Navneet was out of the game for nearly two weeks after suffering a head injury. He claims that he does not see soccer as a tackle sport compared to other sports, which led him to believe that a head injury could ever be a problem. The discussion further went into detail claiming that he has seen his teammates get very bad head injuries, some have been knocked out from the impact, and some have experienced memory loss. Navneet claimed that his own head injury caused him a short-term memory loss, sensitivity to light, and problems with balance, which was very common according to secondary research.

Navneet mentioned that he wore protective gear such as shin guard or a cup, but never anything for his head, but he wished that there was something light he could wear to at least minimize his risk of a concussion. He was also more aware of concussions after he experienced one himself, he claimed that he became a smarter player, he tried to avoid tackles and slides, and he completely avoided jumping up to try to hit the ball with his head to avoid any injuries. Navneet would love to experiment with new products, but he would want something that wouldn’t affect his performance and would be something he can quickly adjust with. It was very interesting to interview Dr. Nathan, especially when one of the most common injuries he deals with is a concussion. Most concussions come from sports or accidental injuries, but most commonly he sees football players come in with headaches from tackles.

Before going into too much detail of concussions, Dr. Nathan was asked to explain what a concussion is and how it occurs. He stated that concussion occurs when brain jiggles back and forth after being struck, that can lead to swelling, or sometimes bleeding. This can lead to dizziness, sensitivity to light and sound, sharp headaches, and sometimes memory loss. He claimed that best thing to do after any head injury, even if it is light, to check persons’ balance, dilatation of the eyes, and also perform a resistance test. If the person passes all of these, only then the player should return back into the game. If not, the injured athlete should sleep for at least 7-10 days after a head injury depending on how serious it is, and should be away from any electronics, loud noises, and distractions. Dr. Nathan also claimed that athletes often just get up from a tackle or an injury and get back into the game, which is the worst thing that they can do, because if they experience another tackle or hit, this will lead them into even more serious damage that could potentially take them out for the season. Nathan claimed that concussions could be fixed by implementing stronger rules, educating coaches on how to train their athletes, making clear to play a clean game, and if someone does a dirty tackle, make sure that the person is punished to avoid this down the line.

In conclusion, to avoid head injuries, educating the players, the kids, and the parents of how serious this is could start to solve this problem of concussions. Although accidents cannot be avoided, they can definitely be minimized. After conducting research from athletes at risk and professionals in the field, there are several business opportunities that could be implemented to better market Product JX by JJSI. First, branding the product for the appropriate market would be the first step, renaming Product JX to Shock-Fit could help to identify the product features in its name. Shock for absorbing the impact, and Fit that it fits any mouth. Additional information could be added on the packaging or on product information page about the technology behind it, and how using Shock-Fit could be beneficial for any type of athlete. Shock-Fit is aimed to be a B2B product, focusing on larger brands, park districts, and school districts. As doctors worry about health of younger athletes, such as kids and teens, especially in contact sports, Shock-Fit would be a perfect product in the school district market. Focusing on high-school athletes, Shock-Fit could be a product that coaches could purchase for their teams, and help their athletes to stay safer and minimize their risk of concussions.

As many decisions that schools implement often come from parents, it is important to look at parent’s views on concussions in sports. J. Patel from Stanford University found that many parents know what concussions are but they do not know the affect of it and the damage it does (Science Daily). Once the parents know the details, the effects, and the consequences of a concussion, a big demand could grow for Shock-Fit product. The research done by JJSI should be presented to athlete parents in a high school, which further could be a great step for parents to become a great influencer of large volume purchase from a school district. Coaches from the school district should also look into this technology, become familiar with the research and understand how this could prevent injuries. As coaches play a large role in influencing the school district, they could also be seen as buyers. Last but not least, educating players themselves could be a big part of selling Shock-Fit, if the players know how this can minimize their risk of a concussion, not only it will make them a user of this product, but also influencers for school districts to purchase this product.

It would also be important that doctors from the local country review this product, and educate school districts representatives of how this product can help to prevent concussions and improve the safety of athletes. Overall, many of the strengths of this product are its small compact size, the ability to get easily used to it, having the ability to breath while wearing it, and reducing the risk of getting a concussion upon an impact. It is not specifically made for football or contact sport athletes, but can be worn by anyone that does any type of activity that has a risk of an injury. Shock-Fit could be sold to school districts, and incorporated in the upfront cost of the sport. As there are several other products that are similar and cheaper to Shock-Fit that are made to prevent concussions, market penetration could occur if Shock-Fit partnered up with a larger known brand, for example, Nike, and sold this branded under Nike. This would not only increase the trust in the product, but Nike could also use the research done by JJSI to back up why this mouth guard is the best in the industry, and why Shock-Fit will help to prevent concussions. With this, Shock-Fit in partnership with Nike could increase customers trust in brand and approach school districts this way which could increase the chance of making a sale.  

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