Football is getting its bell rung with products that push concussion-safety pseudoscience

Football’s concussion problem has given way to a litany of products backed by pseudoscience.


October 3, 2019

Over the past decade, heightened awareness of football’s concussion problem has led to a booming market of anti-concussion dietary supplements and in-game technology guaranteed to keep your dome safe.

Problem is, these potential fixes often overlook a rather important benchmark: science. And it has many experts racking their brains.

Some claims have been bogus enough to raise flags with the FTC. Yet, research suggests concussion-safety products are more readily available than ever — and they’re still covered in snake oil.

Marketing beats science any day of the week

In 2012, the FTC warned against the products of 18 sport-tech companies, including the Tom Brady-endorsed dietary supplement, NeuroSafe, that claimed to put a “seat belt” around the brain to keep it in place upon impact.

Simply put: When your head sloshes around, so goes your brain. And, according to, well, science, there’s no way around it.

NeuroSafe was eventually discontinued. But the supplement method is only one unproven solution in the middle of a vast market.

Ah, yes. The ol’ concussion-evangelist

Some products are created based off of a founder’s scientific study. David Smith helped publish research that suggests concussions are less common at higher altitudes due to higher blood volume in the brain. 

Later, Smith created a device called the Q-Collar, which forms a “bubble wrap” around the brain. Like the brain seat belt, this analogy has also been criticized.

Questionable chiropractic methods like dynamic compression therapy, which is said to help concussed players get back on the field sooner, have also been used.

‘Whatever helps you sleep at night:’ Debunked

It’s too cynical to say these companies and researchers are just looking to profit (right??), but many experts agree that gaining the proper vantage point inside of the brain to see if a concussion product undoubtedly works is still too difficult. That is, until it’s too late.

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