GOOSE CREEK, SC (WCSC) - Senior athletic trainer Ernie Drews, of Goose Creek High School, knows the benefit of protecting high school football players with the best available equipment on the market.
"You give them a sense of security," he said."Not a false sense, but a sense of security so they're more confident when they go out on the field."
Entering the 2015 season, the program invested in the Kerr Collar, a product designed to reduce force to the head and neck during a football collision.
"The cervical spine is the most vulnerable place in the human body and we have zero neck protection," said Dr. Patrick Kerr, creator of the collar, also
a licensed chiropractor based in New York.
Kerr released the product for sale on his website, after extensive testing at the Center for Injury and Biomechanics on the Virginia Tech campus.
Since then, collegiate programs Clemson and The University of South Carolina have joined the ranks of athletes outfitted in the collar.
Goose Creek senior trainer Ernie Drews noted a marked improvement in spinal injuries among the school's football athletes. To date, five players wear the Kerr collar, namely linebackers, linemen, and other high impact players.
The collar rests in the shoulder pads and is laced in secure its place. Unlike other models, its designed to allow full range of motion.
"Does everyone need to wear this? No," he said.
Drews added the collar, like all protective equipment doesn't eliminate the risk of serious injury, but lessens the severity.
"The helmet and shoulder pads are all we spend money on," Drews added. "This has made a big impact."
Kerr said his toughest critics argue a stronger neck would also reduce force during football collisions, but said even athletes with the strongest neck have been left paralyzed.