The start for this essay comes from Vice President of Investments at Nesbitt Burns/BMO, Kevin Roy. ” We’ve had 4 concussions in our curling group. People’s heads really smack the ice hard when their feet just fly out from beneath them. But there’s this new product that some of the curler’s are starting to wear, it’s like a thick head band around their head covered in fur.” I was amazed by this remark. Only in Canada can we play a game walking then running on ice chasing a pitched stone to a bull’s eye down the sidewalk. But a head protection for curler’s? I had to know more. Google search keywords: curling and concussion-BINGO the Gsearch engine finds: the Ice Halo/ Made in Canada, the head protection for curler’s and figure skaters, ‘what a cool idea,’ I whispered to myself.
Barbara Armstrong is an avid curler yet she almost stopped after her first game. Slipping on the ice she fell headlong heavily onto the back of her head, suffering a severe concussion.
“To this day I don’t recall the fall, nor the ten minutes prior to it for that matter! That time is lost to me now. According to my teammates my feet just slipped out from under me, I went down backwards with a crash, and even people on the ice three sheets over from us heard the almighty crack when my head hit the ice.
When I stood up my vision remained blurry, my balance was off, needless to say I had a goose egg sized bump on the back of my head, and I had to sit the rest of the game out. My first game, and all I got to play was not even two ends.
As the night progressed my condition worsened and I ended up spending the night in the hospital getting x-rays and CT scans – thankfully the results were clear – no internal bleeding, no brain damage, no fractures. However, I had to stay off the ice for two whole weeks!! In fact, I had to stay in the house resting for two weeks – not that I was capable of doing much else with the way my head ached. ”
During her long convalescence she became fraught with anxiety about returning onto the ice terrified to slip again. To keep her return to the ice appointment she decided to make her own protective head-gear since nothing was available. She did not want a helmet, she wanted something to provide protection, yet not make her head warm so she invented a fur covered thick sweat band, looking like a halo, to give herself the necessary confidence to get back onto the curling ice.
“The Ice Halo is unique in its field, filling a niche that has been in need but never in demand until the level of awareness about the dangers of concussion increased as much as it has recently,” Armstrong said, who was profiled in the recent March 2012 issue of the Canadian Business Journal. It took a month for Armstrong wearing her newly invented curling protection halo until a representative form the Barrie Special Olympics saw her, asking how she could purchase one, which led to the first 18 Ice Halos getting sold for the rep’s Special Olympics group.
Things just took off exponentially after 2009 for the Ice Halo. “Everyone at some point will or has slipped and fallen to hit their head. It’s as inevitable as getting out of bed. Concussions happen worldwide so the Ice Halo is available worldwide,” enthused a very proud Armstrong. People sometimes are funny, they worry about the stigma of wearing head protection, yet Armstrong reduces that impression by exclaiming, “It’s the most fashionable piece of safety equipment you’ll ever wear!”
By significantly reducing the impact force into slowing the impact by absorbing G forces, the Ice Halo fills a niche between no protection to wearing a full helmet. Like all good entrepreneurs Armstrong is developing better, more effective absorption capacity in the form of specialized inner architectural spiked foam liners to better dissipate the deceleration contact event.
According to the article the Ice Halo was, “originally designed for curlers, yet the demand for the Ice Halo has quickly spanned across several fields. It’s been embraced by figure skaters, ice dancers, and protective uses for children. Hospitals and senior care facilities also supply the Ice Halo for the elderly with balance issues.”
Armstrong concluded in the Canadian Business Journal article, “The fact that these people and thousands of others who believe in the product drives me to work hard to ensure more people are safe on and off the ice and in any situation where head injuries can occur.”
No head protection is no protection, and it’s not a stigma to wear head protection, it’s HeadSmart, as Ken Dryden might say.