If you don't currently ride with a neck brace, now might be a good time to consider wearing one, as a serious neck injury can easily end a racing career in an instant, possibly resulting in a debilitating injury or death.
Just remember, if you suffer a serious neck injury that results in spinal cord damage (AKA SCI), you're likely to be done riding competitively. Additionally, should you become paralyzed with a paraplegic or quadriplegic condition, most of the normal activities you may take for granted now from walking or running, to cycling or swimming, among other training exercises will likely become unachievable, as there is currently no cure for SCI.
How Does A Neck Brace Work?
The idea of a neck brace is to limit the movement of a riders head in the event of a crash, effectively limiting the extension or flexion of the neck, while simultaneously redirecting any load placed on a riders neck and dissipating this force over a broad area, while diverting potentially harmful energy to other less critical parts of the riders body, whether it’s onto the chest, shoulders, or down the back, all of which is accomplished by a properly fitted neck brace working in unison with a riders helmet to help prevent injury by providing an alternative load path during an accident, ultimately attempting to reduce any force placed on the riders neck.
The Progression of Neck Protection
Although alot of people were familiar with the neck donut for a means of neck protection, a trauma surgeon, Dr Chris Leatt, an avid off-road motorcyclist himself, and witness to several catastrophic neck injuries, (including one with a fatality at an enduro which he was attending), felt there was a need to better protect off-road motorcyclists from neck and spinal cord injuries than what a neck donut could provide, and as such, suspended his medical interests as a trauma surgeon, and set out to design a better means of neck protection than that of the available "neck donuts" and foam collars that some riders were using.
It was later, after several years of development and refinement of prototypes with knowledge gleaned through extensive laboratory and field testing that Dr. Chris Leatt introduced a neck brace to the public which was to be later known as, and is still referred to as the "Leatt Brace", which has in itself started a revolution that has expanded into manufacturers such as Alpinestars, Atlas and EVS developing their own fashionable versions of this important piece of safety equipment, which has become widely embraced among a large majority of both professional, and amateur or recreational riders in motocross, off-road disciplines and FMX.
Why Neck Donuts Don't Offer Adequate Protection
Before the introduction of the Leatt Brace, most riders were familiar with "Neck Donuts", and these were generally considered the best thing for any type of neck protection, although times and technology have advanced significantly whereas the conventional neck donut, or foam collar has now been proven to be an inadequate means of neck protection, as neck donuts are generally constructed from a soft material which usually just compresses upon impact, resulting in almost no load reduction from a rider's neck, essentially deeming neck donuts and foam collars ineffective.
Furthermore, during Dr. Leatt's testing, and during the development of the Leatt Brace, In laboratory tests Dr. Leatt observed that by using a soft neck donut, in the event of a crash, a rider could be more susceptible to suffer a serious injury due to the way that the neck donut increases the bending movement of the riders neck, by the donut acting as a fulcrum, causing a rider's neck to bend around the collar.
Real World Effects of Spinal Cord Injuries from Danny "Magoo" Chandler, David Bailey, Ernesto Fonseca & Beyond
Bottom Line Is
Crashing goes with the territory and it doesn't matter if you're AA fast, presenting yourself as a rolling chicane to the faster riders, hucking the big & gnarlies or just riding recreationally, A Neck Brace is wise to consider as part of your safety gear
, as a neck or spinal cord injury can have very serious consequences as the preceding video attempts to illustrate.