June 17, 2023
• Concussions and head injuries remain one of the most serious issues in contact sports
• Carter Hogg, a college football player, watched his brother’s career end after suffering from a concussion
• In an in-depth interview with Sports Brief, Carter explains how he came up with a kit that he hopes will reduce concussion risks
The 2014 World Cup final will always be remembered for Mario Gotze’s iconic goal in extra time to deny Lionel Messi’s Argentina the biggest prize in football. The German machine under Joachim Loew claimed the scalp of another South American giant after thrashing hosts Brazil in the semi-finals.
However, those with long memories will remember how Christoph Kramer gave the centre referee and everyone who was watching shock after a head collision.
Kramer, who was a surprise inclusion in the starting XI following Sami Khedira’s injury, had an accidental clash of heads with Ezequiel Garay just after the quarter-hour mark leaving him on the turf.
After initial treatment, he was allowed to continue. 14 minutes later, Kramer approached the referee, Nicola Rizzoli, and asked him what game he was playing.
“‘Ref, is this the final?’ I thought he was joking and made him repeat the question and then he said: ‘I need to know if this is really the final’. When I said yes, he concluded: ‘Thanks, it was important to know that’,” Rizzoli said in a past interview, as quoted by the Guardian.
Rizzoli was astounded and quickly informed Bastian Schweinsteiger, who in turn told the coach and Kramer was substituted – 14 minutes after he suffered the concussion.
Marca reports that he had no idea of playing in the final, let alone winning the cup.
Carter Hogg’s invention
Such is the gravity of such situations that hit very close to home for John Hopkins University student Carter Hogg when his brother, FJ Hogg, suffered a career-ending concussion while playing during his junior year in college.
Carter later realised that athletes and friends around him showed less interest in contact sports due to the hazards posed by head trauma.
“The only memory FJ has of it is a photo of him celebrating with the rest of the team,” Carter said in an exclusive interview with Sports Brief.
He recalls how devastated and heartbroken he was to see his brother go through all the extremes that come with a concussion.
Mayo Clinic lists loss of memory, severe headaches, and problems with concentration as some of the long-term effects of head trauma.
The Hogg family and a photo of the GR8 Skin PPE kit that is expected to address and reduce concussion risks.
Sports and concussion statistics
Carter then sat back and pondered what he could do to address the situation which is so rampant, not only in contact sports but also in victims of accidents, especially car accidents.
A study from the University of Pittsburgh indicates that between 1.7 million to 3 million sports-related concussions happen every year, with 300,000 of these coming from football.
“My brother’s situation motivated me to sit down and see if I could address these issues with concussions, bring a new perspective that maybe wasn’t out there before, and that was the reason behind G8R Skin and what led me to the product in the first place.”
Now 19 years old and a football player himself, Carter – with the aid of his father – came up with a balaclava-shaped helmet that reduces the risk of concussion, covering one’s head, neck, chest, upper back, and shoulders.
How GR8 Skin works
When one gets hit, GR8 skin is said to absorb the impact and spreads it across the entire device, which reduces the force of the impact.
“The secondary and the crucial aspect of it is that because of the nature of the device, it is very flexible and it’s not going to restrict your engine motion at all at normal movements, speed supply.
“But when you take that extreme collision that’s causing your head to move at an unnatural rate, it quite literally hardens. GR8 is going to basically turn into a neck brace in the sense that it’s going to help limit that movement of your head and reduce the variations of the head during the impact.”
Carter added the same logic was applied during vehicle collisions.
“So what GR8 does is it slows down that collision so that the impact of your brain against your skull is either entirely removed or significantly reduced so that the chances of concussion is drastically decreased.”
A study at the Virginia Tech Helmet Lab has shown the kit helps in reducing the risk of concussion by a whopping 61.57%.
Given that most sports require one to be proactive and constantly on the move, Carter opines that GR8 skin does not in any way inhibit the movements of the athlete.
“It doesn’t feel like it’s some super heavy burden, burdensome thing that you’re wearing. It’s slightly thicker but not something that’s overly noticeable or detrimental.”
The second-year college student – who comes from a family line of inventors – revealed there are ongoing tests and he hopes that more modifications will take place in future.
Concussion in sports remains a concern that authorities are working to address. The English Premier League adopted the International Football Association Board’s (IFAB) trial of additional permanent concussion substitutions (APCS) in 2021, where teams were allowed extra substitutes in the event of a concussion.
Carter’s brother has since recovered fully, but the family remains wary of the danger head trauma poses. The solution is not to stop playing a sport one loves – but rather find ways to reduce or eliminate the risks.