Chiropractor creates football collar meant to thwart neck injuries, concussions

Dr. Patrick Kerr is the creator of the Kerr Collar, a device he says absorbs and disperses the impact from tackles, protecting the player from injury


In an effort to look like Jack Lambert, one of the National Football League’s most feared tacklers, then-high school football player Patrick Kerr wrapped a football neck roll, called an Adams Roll, in medical tape and placed it around his neck. The aesthetic choice also had a purpose. Kerr strategically placed the collar under his helmet to help protect his head and neck during the impact of tackles.

This protective measure would be a nod to Kerr’s future as a practicing chiropractor and inventor of the Kerr Collar; a lightweight device that fits into a players shoulder pads that shortens the gap between the pads and the helmet.

“I wanted to create a system where the helmet would interact with the shoulder pads because I understood the importance of the head and neck together during a collision, rather than just looking at a football helmet and a head,” Kerr told

This effort to understand what happens during collision, Kerr believes, can protect players from injury. He hopes that the collar can become a mandatory part of players’ uniforms as news about serious injuries continues to flow from youth, collegiate and professional football. Kerr pointed out that players are rightfully required to wear knee braces and mouth guards to prevent injuries that are career threatening, but their necks are left exposed and neck injuries are much more dire.

So far in 2015, there have been 97 concussions reported in the NFL. Also in 2015, seven high school football players have died directly from injuries sustained on the field, this is according to The National Center for Catastrophic Sport Injury Research.

Kerr hopes that by creating a system in which the helmet interacts more closely with the shoulder pads players can be better protected on the field. Kerr said that what differentiates his collar from others on the market,is that his allows the head to move backwards during impact which helps disperses the impact. This practice, he said, facilitates USA Football’s push for Heads Up Football

The Kerr Collar, he told, “creates a system to absorb and disperse the forces that you’re creating during a collision.” Kerr teamed up with the Virginia Tech Center for Injury Biomechanics to study collisions on the field to test the collar’s protective mechanisms.

The collar is sandwiched between the helmet and shoulder pads to both cushion blows to the head and prevent hyperextension of the neck. The studies at Virginia Tech found that the helmet reduces on average 58 percent force transmission into the neck and reduces head and neck movement during collision by 38 percent.

Nick Melka played football for Columbia University and had chronic neck pain from years on the field. His trainer referred him to Kerr for treatment, and soon after, he started using the collar.

After treatment and using the collar during his last playing year, Melka said that most of his pain dissipated.

“Wearing the collar definitely saved me [from] a lot of wear and tear on my neck,” he told Melka also credited the collar for improving his game because of the boost of confidence it gave him, knowing he was better protected on the field.

Apart from concussions, Dr. Joseph Herrera, the chairman of the department of rehabilitation medicine at Mount Sinai Beth Israel, told that some of the more common injuries that you see in football are muscular skeletal strains and brachial plexus injuries, also known as stingers.

“The Kerr Collar definitely could help with the plexus injuries because it is actually bulked up around [the neck area] which diminishes the traction which gets pulled on the nerve fibers that exit the neck,” Herrera said. However, he doesn’t believe it will have a huge impact on concussions.

Kerr said that while football players will never be 100 percent safe on the field, his collar does have a lasting benefit.

“Accumulation of force coming to the head, managing that force and taking it down so that accumulation of these injuries of these impacts are less over the career of a football player,” Kerr said.

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