Kessler Foundation studies new option for treating neck pain in active-duty military

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The Geneva Foundation funds two-year study of Cervigard Neck Collar in active-duty service members with neck pain. The study is part of the Musculoskeletal Injury Rehabilitation Research for Operational Readiness (MIRROR) program

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Credit: Specna Arms

East Hanover, NJ. May 5, 2021. Kessler Foundation received a $219,941 award from The Geneva Foundation for a two-year study: MIRROR Collaboration: A novel treatment for neck pain in active-duty military personnel: The Cervigard Neck Collar. This funding builds upon the Foundation’s participation as one of the civilian sites participating in the Musculoskeletal Injury Rehabilitation Research for Operational Readiness (MIRROR) program, headquartered at the Uniformed Services University (USU) in Bethesda, Maryland.

Lead investigators are Nathan Hogaboom, PhD, co-director of the Derfner-Lieberman Laboratory for Regenerative Rehabilitation Research at Kessler Foundation, and Gerard Malanga, MD, director of New Jersey Regenerative Institute and a visiting scientist at Kessler Foundation. Cervigard is a product of Cervigard Spinal Bracing Corporation in Bloomfield, New Jersey.

The present study targets neck pain, which is common among active-duty servicemen and women, particularly combat medics. Causes of nonspecific neck pain are multifactorial; however, mechanical factors are usually present. One such factor is forward head posture (FHP), which places excess strain on the soft tissues of the cervical spine and causes loss of the normal lordotic curve. If not treated properly, this can lead to degenerative changes, chronic pain, and declines in function and quality of life. Neck pain caused by FHP may be more severe in younger individuals (

In a 6-week pilot study of the Cervigard FHP Neck Collar, civilians with neck pain showed decreased pain, improved lordotic curve, and reduced forward head posture. Participants in the single-blind study wear the Cervigard Neck Collar for 20 minutes per day for 6 weeks, with patient-reported outcomes and imaging studies conducted at baseline and follow-up.

“We anticipate that this study may expand the options for treating neck pain in military personnel,” Dr. Hogaboom said. New options are needed because current treatments have drawbacks when applied to the military population. Treatment protocols tend to be multimodal, relying on pharmacological agents, physical therapy, and other modalities.

“Analgesics may not only lead to addiction and accidental overdose but can impair cognitive and physical functions critical to safety and performance,” explained Dr. Malanga. “Although physical therapy is well-studied in the civilian population, there is a lack of evidence to support many of these treatments in active-duty service members,” he added. “We need to explore interventions that are not only effective, but compatible with active-duty lifestyles. Short-term noninvasive therapy using the Cervigard Neck Collar is one promising approach.”

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Funding: The Geneva Foundation HU00011920011; S-11021-23-01

The opinions and assertions expressed herein are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the official policy or position of the Uniformed Services University or the Department of Defense.

About The Geneva Foundation

The Geneva Foundation is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization that advances military medicine through innovative scientific research, exceptional program management, and a dedication to U.S. service members and veterans, their families, and the global community. Geneva is proud to have over 25 years of experience in delivering full spectrum scientific, technical, and program management expertise in the areas of federal grants, federal contracts, industry sponsored clinical trials, and educational services. genevaUSA.org

About Kessler Foundation

Kessler Foundation, a major nonprofit organization in the field of disability, is a global leader in rehabilitation research that seeks to improve cognition, mobility, and long-term outcomes–including employment–for people with neurological disabilities caused by diseases and injuries of the brain and spinal cord. Kessler Foundation leads the nation in funding innovative programs that expand employment opportunities for people with disabilities. Learn more by visiting KesslerFoundation.org.

For more information on Kessler Foundation’s research, visit KesslerFoundation.org.

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