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Concussions, often identified as TBI (Traumatic Brain Injury), are caused by the head moving rapidly back and forth. They affect up to 3.8 million Americans every 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 by implementing stricter laws in sports games. Several themes were presented in an interview with athletes who have experienced a concussion during a sport. The first takeaway is that concussions are not taken as seriously as other injuries. The second takeaway is that athletes put too much trust in their protective gear. The third insight is that coaches, parents, and players are not informed enough about the potential severity of a concussion and the consequences of inadequate treatment.
Therefore, the Jaw Joint Science Institute (JJSI) developed a mouth guard to protect athletes from getting a concussion upon impact. This product differs from a traditional mouth guard in that it fits perfectly for every mouth and locks the bottom jaw in place during an impact, reducing the risk of the brain moving back and forth. Although, this product is patented, similar mouth guards already exist on the market. They use slightly different technology but serve the same purpose.
How it works
To penetrate the market, this mouth guard can be marketed as the Shock-Fit and could be sold to school districts. It might also be beneficial to partner with a well-known brand like Nike. This would create trust in the product, as Nike is a well-established brand, and the research done by JJSI could be part of the marketing campaign. Concussions are often identified as TBI (Traumatic Brain Injury), caused by the head moving rapidly back and forth. In most cases, doctors will label these injuries as mild because they are not life-threatening. However, they can indeed have negative implications on a person’s health. The leading causes of concussions seen in emergency departments result from falls, motor vehicle injuries, unintentional impacts with obstacles, assaults, and sports activities (US Department of Health, 3). Research done by Dr. Sarah K Field, from Ohio State University, shows that the concussion rate among US high school and college athletes is the second largest cause of injury, next to motor vehicle crashes among people aged 15 to 24. The research also showed that 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 knowledge about concussions and how to prevent them could reduce concussion rates, patterns, and risk factors. Preventing concussions will differ from one activity to another. For example, in football, wearing protective gear like a helmet can greatly reduce your chances of a concussion, but it will not eliminate them completely. However, in a sport like soccer, being informed and knowledgeable about concussions can help you avoid contact, though it won’t always be avoidable. According to an article from US News, multiple legal measures have been introduced in US sports, especially for children, to reduce concussions. For instance, banning headers in soccer or restricted checking for boys under the age of 15 in hockey (Costa). Some experts suggest that the impact itself is not the worst part; it’s the aftermath (Meehan). The National Athletic Trainers’ Association asserts that incorporating neck muscle strengthening in a variety of contact sports can significantly minimize the chance of a concussion. The theory is that an athlete with stronger neck muscles might be able to control the whiplash-like movement, thereby reducing the likelihood of a concussion (Costa). The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) has proposed several methods of preventing concussions, concluding that it ultimately falls to the coaches, the education system, and the players themselves. The Jaw Joint Science Institute (JJSI) has been studying injury patterns related to concussions and how jaw movement can affect the severity of the concussion.
The JJIS proposes that the force of a lower jaw impact that leads to a concussion can also fracture the temporal bones in the jaw joint space. If this is addressed, the pain and suffering of many concussions could be alleviated. In response, the JJSI developed a product in partnership with medical professionals and using 3D imaging technology that could help to prevent these jaw joint fractures which can lead to a concussion. The product, developed by JJSI, is called Product JX. It’s a patented mouth guard that can adapt to all mouth sizes. It can be custom-fitted in three minutes using the boil-and-bite procedure, and when properly inserted, it will stabilize and lock the lower jaw into position.
It is also designed to maximize breathability and clear verbal communication, eliminating the need to remove it from the mouth, and setting it apart from traditional mouthpieces. The JJSI is priced at $65 per unit and is intended to be sold only to B2B markets, not individual consumers. JJSI is not the only company offering custom-fit mouth guards targeted at preventing concussions. According to Military Medicine, up until now, most initiatives to prevent concussions have been external, like buying and wearing a helmet. However, a product like the PX3 Bite Regulator, developed by Sports Science, takes a very different approach. Instead of being external, it’s internal. This product could compliment a helmet or even replace it for those who don’t wear helmets in their sports, such as soccer players. The PX3’s approach focuses on a cluster of internal physiological variables and enhancing the complex interrelationship between the respiratory, musculoskeletal, and neurological systems to proactively improve the athlete’s ability to better prepare to absorb, or entirely avoid, an impact on the field” (Military Medicine, 510-515). This mouthpiece differs significantly from a regular mouthpiece.
Military Medicine research shows that fatigue during performance is a significant concussion factor. Since many sports mouth guards don’t focus on breathability, athletes can become fatigued and less aware, possibly leading to a concussion. The PX3, by contrast, is specially designed to enhance an athlete’s breathing capacity while protecting the mouth and head. Unlike most traditional mouth guards — which typically fit only the top teeth and have a smooth opposing bite surface for the bottom teeth — the PX3 is custom-made for each athlete. Fitted three-dimensionally, it allows oxygen to flow while also aligning and locking in the opposing teeth to stabilize the jaw during impact. Other market competitors include Fit Guard, which has a positioning statement claiming it protects against extreme concussions. Q Collar mouth guard asserts that it stabilises the brain during impact, therefore reducing the risk of a concussion. Another product, by Shock Doctor, claims to fit all ages and mouth sizes. It includes flavoring, lip protection, and even accommodates users with braces. It also comes with a $10k dental warranty, in case of injury while wearing the mouth guard. While some of these products may not be specifically designed to reduce concussion risk, they contain technology that can do so, making them worthy competition. To better understand the effects of concussions on people at risk or who’ve experienced them, an interview was conducted with two athletes and a doctor for JX product development. One athlete was a soccer player and the other a football player — both had suffered concussions. The doctor worked in urgent care and regularly treated people with concussions, especially those from accidental or sports injuries.
They all had a common theme overall, concussions. Even though concussions had occurred, both of the athletes returned to 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 three years at the high school level, and most injuries he reported were quite common such as sprained ankles, bruising, torn muscles, and head injuries etc. What caught attention was that he did not report a head injury right away. Instead of saying, “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 his head. After conducting secondary research, some doctors claimed that this is the biggest issue in contact sports. It’s not the impact itself, but rather what happens afterward. If the player experiences multiple tackles a game and does not get it checked out, this can lead to serious damage further down the line.
Dan also mentioned that he switches his equipment every year or season, but also believes that helmets and body padding protect him completely from injuries, making him “invincible”, which is a known mindset among athletes who wear protective gear. Dan claimed that being a smart player, knowing the game, and playing clean is the best way to avoid concussions and injuries. This aligns with what some experts inferred during secondary research. When the interview delved deeper into the discussion of protective gear, Dan stated that he wears a mouth guard, but primarily to protect his mouth and tongue. He did not provide any additional information on how he thinks a mouth guard could protect him from a concussion. The second interview was conducted with a soccer player named Navneet, who had been playing soccer for nearly seven years and had experienced some injuries over time. Despite being most afraid of muscle tears, broken bones, or sprained ankles during games, Navneet never mentioned head injuries as one of his fears. Although he did not mention a concussion or head injury as a fear of his, he was sidelined for nearly two weeks due to a head injury. Navneet believes that soccer is not a tackle sport compared to other sports, which led him to underestimate the risk of a head injury. The conversation detailed that he has seen his teammates suffer severe 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 short-term memory loss, sensitivity to light, and problems with balance, which according to secondary research, is very common.
Navneet mentioned that he wore protective gear such as a shin guard or a cup, but never anything for his head. He wished that there was something light he could wear to at least minimize his risk of a concussion. After experiencing a concussion himself, he became more aware and claimed he became a smarter player, trying to avoid tackles, slides, and completely avoided jumping up to hit the ball with his head. 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 to.
Interviewing Dr. Nathan was very interesting, especially since 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 explaining concussions in detail, Dr. Nathan was asked to explain what a concussion is and how it occurs. He stated that a concussion occurs when the brain jiggles back and forth after being struck, leading to swelling, or sometimes bleeding. This can lead to dizziness, sensitivity to light and sound, sharp headaches, and sometimes memory loss. He claimed the best thing to do after any head injury, even a light one, is to check a person’s balance, eye dilation, and perform a resistance test. If the person passes all of these, only then should the player return to the game. Otherwise, the injured athlete should rest for at least 7-10 days after a head injury, depending on the severity, and should stay away from electronics, loud noises, and distractions. Dr. Nathan also asserted that athletes often just get up from a tackle or injury and return to the game, which can exacerbate the injury and potentially cause serious damage.
Dr. Nathan claimed that implementing stronger rules, educating coaches on training athletes, and promoting clean play could help mitigate concussions. Dirty tackles should be punished to deter such behaviour in the future. In conclusion, to avoid head injuries, educating players, children, and parents about the seriousness is a step towards solving the problem of concussions. While accidents cannot be eradicated, they can certainly be minimized.
After conducting research with athletes at risk and professionals in the field, several business opportunities for better marketing Product JX by JJSI were identified. The first step would be branding the product appropriately for the market. Renaming Product JX to Shock-Fit could help identify its features. The word “Shock” would represent its ability to absorb impact, and “Fit” would denote that it can be adjusted to fit any mouth. Detailed information about the technology behind Shock-Fit, as well as its benefits for athletes, could be added to the product packaging or informational webpage. Shock-Fit aims to be a B2B product, focusing on larger brands, park districts, and school districts. This focus is especially relevant with the concerns doctors express for the health of young athletes, such as children and teenagers, 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 purchase for their teams, helping their athletes stay safer and minimize their risk of concussions. As many decisions that schools implement often come from parents, it is important to consider parents’ views on concussions in sports. J. Patel from Stanford University found that many parents know what concussions are, but they do not understand their effects and the damage they cause (Science Daily). Once parents understand the details, effects, and consequences of concussions, a big demand could grow for the Shock-Fit product. The research done by JJSI should be presented to athlete parents in a high school, which could be a great step for parents to become influencers in large volume purchases 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 potential 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 concussions, not only will it make them users of this product, but also influencers for school districts to purchase this product. It is important for doctors from the local community to review this product and educate school district representatives on how this product can help prevent concussions and improve athletes’ safety. Overall, many of the product’s strengths are its small compact size, the ability to easily adapt to it, the ability to breathe while wearing it, and the reduction of the risk of getting a concussion upon impact. It is not specifically made for football or contact sport athletes but can be worn by anyone engaging in any activity that has a risk of injury. Shock-Fit could be sold to school districts and incorporated into the upfront cost of the sport. Even though there are several other, cheaper products similar to Shock-Fit that are designed to prevent concussions, market penetration could occur if Shock-Fit partnered up with a large, well-known brand like Nike and sold this product under Nike’s brand. This would not only increase 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 prevent concussions. With this, a partnership with Nike could increase customer trust in the brand, thus increasing the chances of making a sale.
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