Local Invention Scores Big

West Chester Inventor Inspired by Nature to Prevent Brain Trauma

The Q-Collar™, a wearable device designed to protect athletes and military personnel from concussions, has generated buzz for its groundbreaking approach to preventing brain injuries. Invented by Dr. David Smith of West Chester, what many don't know is the inspiration behind it comes from an unlikely source: the woodpecker. The one-ounce bird known for its relentless drumming on trees has provided the key to a game-changing technology that protects the user from the debilitating outcomes of head trauma.

By initiating the back-filling of blood, the Q-Collar helps the skull act as a natural cushion.

Dr. Smith explains how we are like a woodpecker. “We have two muscles in our necks called the omohyoid muscles. Upon yawning, these muscles harmlessly collapse our jugular veins, and a small amount of diverted blood flow fills up the skull like bubble wrap or an airbag.”

Dr. Smith previously owned a wound care company and got the idea to harness the power of the woodpecker while presenting at The Army Research Lab. While his lecture was on strategies to keep soldiers from bleeding out on the battlefield, the subjects of traumatic brain injuries (TBI) and “brain slosh” came up.

BRAIN SLOSH Theory™, pioneered by Dr. Smith, describes the mechanism of brain injury and movement inside the skull—which can happen despite wearing a protective helmet. After discussing how science still hasn’t moved the needle after  100 years and $100 billion dollars’ worth of research, there was an inspiring comment from the crowd.

Dr. Smith says, “A PhD in the audience piped in, ‘I think if someone could just figure out how a woodpecker can slam its head into a tree 80-million times and fly away...would we have this whole thing solved?’"

This one statement catalyzed 14 years and 25 publications’ worth of research, development and evidence that led to FDA approval of the first and only medical device authorized to make claims in preventing TBI. To get FDA approval, however, requires an immense amount of patience and analysis. Dr. Smith wanted to show the military specifically that he could take an IED-level force and move it through a soldier’s brain without it “absorbing, ripping or tearing” during the process.

Dr. Smith had some help investigating the effects of improvised explosive devices by utilizing a local bank scheduled for demolition as a testing ground. 

“We blew up a bank in Cincinnati with 30 Hamilton County SWAT officers with C4 high explosives and detonator cord during breacher exercises,” he explains.

Brain scans were taken at the beginning of the operation and again at the end. 

Dr. Smith says, “When [the Q-Collar] was on those [15 wearing it], energy forces went right through.” 

He published his study, and as a direct result, Walter Reed and Bethesda Naval Hospital performed their own testing in animals and reported similar findings. This further got the military’s attention and led to an eventual partnership between Dr. Smith’s team and the Army.

Forty NFL players used the Q-Collar in 2022, and Dr. Smith shares that the device has “full endorsements by the Premier Lacrosse League, the International Bobsled and Skeleton Organization, multiple professional and collegiate soccer and basketball players, rodeo professionals, acrobatic pilots and NASCAR racers.”

But the Q-Collar isn’t just for contact sports or those in high-risk fields. It can also benefit anyone concerned about TBI or brain health in general. Dr. Smith and his wife wear theirs when they bike or at target practice, to block ringing in the ears afterward.

Dr. Smith’s research doesn’t end with the Q-Collar. He has 42 patents and currently is working on a sleep apnea mask called the SAGE Rebreather™, which is in clinical trials. This device holds the potential to be another trailblazing discovery since only 20% of those diagnosed with apnea follow through with CPAP usage because of discomfort and frustration with the machine. This local doctor-turned-inventor strives to use his knowledge to help save and improve lives.

The Q-Collar is available for order online–use the promo code “QCollar10” for a ten percent discount. Commercial purchases are available for large groups–reach out to Dr. Smith at his website for more information.,


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