When Heads Come Together… Chapter Summaries

The following Chapter summaries will provide you with a condensed overview of my book. While chapter summaries can be helpful, they should not be used in place of reading the book itself. The illustrations and detailed descriptions in the text can provide crucial context that is often lost in summary form. 

We uncovered so many rabbit holes and dove into them that we just cannot do them justice by devoting one chapter to each exclusively. So here, we present them, with a bit less detail, to whet your appetite for innovation in general and to prepare you for the upcoming onslaught of ideas. Novel treatments are disclosed for COVID-19, solving the White-nose Syndrome scourge on bats and even uncovering of the Giraffe Skin Disease (GSD) that has been so elusive to scientific experts.

These little-known niches of the scientific/academic world have been nearly orphaned scientifically for lack of any new or at least clever thinking. But no longer. Now you can see the logic of “looking to Nature first” for her ideas before throwing blood, sweat, and treasure at problems when Nature may already have solved it. Hopefully, the crescendo of ideas and concepts will leave you craving for more insight and understanding. “Why don’t people ask why,” may well become your mantra. The mind candy just goes on and on….

For those who want to get the most out of my book, reading it in its entirety is always the best option. 

Chapter One: A Look inside TBI

The story begins with a brief look at just how devastating and common Traumatic Brain injuries are to mankind and the degree of grief and suffering brought about by those injuries. From mild traumatic Brain Injury (mTBI or “concussion”) to blast (bTBI) to repetitive head impacts (RHI) on a continuum to Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE), this chapter introduces what has taken center stage for this author. Identifying the scope of the problem and how Dr. Smith was transformed from a practicing Medical Internist to pioneering the technology capable of changing the world of contact sports.

This chapter presents mentions of the difficulties in diagnosing TBI and even the bias that can go into the study of TBI in the lab and clinical settings. There is even discussion explaining that more than brain material can be at risk in head impacts. Specifically, the brain’s auditory systems (hearing) and even the spinal cord come into play when trying to understand this scourge on humanity and how we might tackle it.

Finally, this chapter introduces Cavitation as a possible mechanism of brain damage and how the medical and scientific communities recently overlooked this phenomenon as quite possibly the true scientific principle, possibly providing the answer to overcoming the misery that TBI affords.




Chapter Two: The Woodpecker: A Gauntlet Is Thrown














The concept of “Nature always finds a way” permeates this chapter. How can these animals of the forest tolerate, let alone thrive, when experiencing such massive g-force impacts? Woodpeckers slam their heads in trees roughly 80 million times over their lifespans and at a g-force of 1200, while humans typically become brain injured with merely ONE BLOW at slightly less than 1/10th of this force.

The story unfolds in this chapter regarding how Dr. Smith studied these lowly woodpeckers to expose how little the scientific community truly understood the mechanism of forces entering, absorbing, and damaging tissues. He discovered two previously unknown mechanisms that had never even been considered as playing a part (if not THE major part) regarding how tissues absorb energies and how Nature could readily overcome this untoward circumstance.

 The technologies presented were first conceived after meeting with the Army Research Lab on an unrelated presentation, which then took 14 years, 25+ publications, and 40 patents for the story to come full circle: To the Army now partnering with the Q30 team (Dr. Smith’s license partners) bringing this technology to our warfighters for dramatically improved protection against TBI.

Chapter Three: Hydrodynamics Rule the Day

Yes, this chapter has to get into the weeds a bit to discuss the true, albeit simple, physics principles defining the problem. Although you may get a little “mathematical dirt” under your fingernails, you should find it easy to understand a major finding in the quest for mitigating TBI. Hydrodynamics, commonly known as SLOSH.

Most, if not all, college-level physics textbooks describe hydrodynamics well as the study of liquids inside moving containers. After all, our brains are made up of at least 70% liquids, and the mathematics of the overarching principles of how these fluids slosh around and interact with each other has already been well flushed out.

 Multiple real-life examples and visuals are depicted in this chapter to assist the “non-mathematically inclined” to fully appreciate and even understand how rather simple devices are designed to impart gentle pressures to the vessels in the neck or even rebreathing one’s own exhaled gases, can actually avoid TBI.

Chapter Four: Innovation: Not for the Faint of Heart

There is no “I” in TEAM. Here you will learn about the collaborative effort to make the Q-Collar come to life and then to follow the subsequent path leading to the up-and-coming SAGE Rebreather™ technologies. Innovation takes painstaking mental efforts in conception, blue-skying, design, engineering, material science, throughput analysis, and the list goes on. This chapter seeks to present a glimpse of what turned out to be an award-winning effort to create these devices and get them through the FDA’s stringent oversight.

The theories that Dr. Smith devised were heavily influenced by the famed Dr. Queckenstedt who identified a way to determine if there was any chance of shrapnel piercing the spinal fluid chambers of a downed soldier while on the battlefield of WWI. In honor of Dr. Queckenstedt, Dr. Smith named his first invention, the Q-Collar, and here’s a twist of nature for you:  this brilliant German surgeon, actually died of a TBI after an ox cart tipped over on him.

Chapter Five: Cue the Q-Collar™

Nearly 80 iterations of the Q-Collar were conceived, argued, and ultimately discarded in deference to the final version of what sits on professional athletes’ and warfighter’s necks today. Every detail had to be scrutinized and wrestled to the ground. Physiology, materials, and calculated forces, ultimately, all had to go into mimicking what nature had evolved over millions of years.

The device started as a simple elastic band that went circumferentially around the neck; however, this configuration was ultimately discarded due to its many negatives. Finally, after many long nights of arguing and filling up whiteboards, a final design was established. This design proceeded to win the coveted Industrial Design Society of America’s (IDSA) GOLD MEDAL award in 2017.

Innovation and commercialization do not stop with just a design. One must FUND the effort and bring all the specialized talent together to get this product through the review and clearance effort at the FDA to take it to market finally. An effort that ultimately consumed 14 years and nearly 30 million dollars

Chapter Six: Jugular Compression, We’ve Been Using it for Millions of Years

Just think of it, if Natural Selection deems that an animal’s trait is dangerous and doesn’t enable the species to thrive and survive (“Survival of the Fittest”), then that trait will be extinguished by her in favor of some other adaptation to take its place. In fact, if a trait is even inefficient in its attempt to give an animal a leg up on its competitors in the game of life, then that trait, again, will fall away.

Jugular compression comes about from two small muscles (the omo-hyoids) that Mankind did not even know why they existed prior to this book’s revelations. As it turns out, when we yawn, these two muscles collapse the jugular veins on either side of your windpipe and the volume and pressure within the cranial vault rises slightly (about a teaspoon of added blood). This tiny change seems so trivial, however, in fact, it is anything but trivial! With this amazing phenomenon, the brain can no longer move around within the confines of the skull, and viola, impact energies pass right through the brain. Get this, every single animal on the planet earth that has a spine and these omo-hyoid muscles, and NOW we know why.

Chapter Seven: What Rebreathing Carbon Dioxide Can Do for You

Jugular compression was not the first physiology that was identified as being protective to the highly g-force tolerant creatures in nature. Actually, before recognized the protection power of the omo-hyoid muscle, we first identified woodpeckers as being “cavity nesting birds.” When you look up what this habitat of a cavity environment means to these animals, it can be somewhat unsettling. You see, since baby birds are going to be consuming any oxygen inside their tree cavity, thereby causing the dropping of O2 levels from 21% to just 15%, whereby retained exhaled CO2 levels cause a rise of ambient gases from 0.04% all the way up to 5% – a 125-fold increase!). What could that mamma bird be thinking, right?

Amazingly, Nature found a way to safely and consistently raise the CO2 of so many of its creatures. “Dead Space” rebreathing exists as a physiology safely allowing a being to partially rebreathe their last exhaled breath, which in turn enables a new, somewhat elevated CO2  set point. Or, an animal could just seek out high CO2 environments like cavities in trees or caves (for bats). Ultimately, identifying this clever mechanism that Nature has used for millions of years, allowed our designers to manipulate anyone’s CO2 level at will. The implications are huge. The managing of sleep apnea, SIDS, altitude Illness and even reversing traumatic brain injury are now coming into our sites.

Chapter Eight: Don’t Hold your Breath, here comes the SAGE Rebreather

This chapter revolves around the discoveries and “bumps in the road” to develop a device that mimics the way Nature designed rebreathing. She found a failsafe mechanism that automatically alters itself when the body starts to elevate its CO2 levels. As usual, blue-skying started us down one path, a snorkel-like device that could be inserted into one’s mouth, only to find a better path as time progressed- a mask device that is lightweight, crushable, and portable. No tubing, batteries, or sensors – nothing that could ultimately fail.

You will be privy to the challenges of utilizing one manufacturing technology over another by putting ongoing improvements on display. The book discloses the preliminary findings and exciting experiences of how to eradicate altitude illness, sleep apnea, and even the prevention of TBI by simply breathing an elevated CO2 in the range safely delivered by this device

Chapter Nine: Not Invented Here- a Rapid-Fire hodgepodge of Ideas

Heads did come together for us by showing us how highly g-tolerant animals of the forest can not only survive multiple head impacts but actually thrive by striking their heads millions of times at forces more than 10 times greater than Mankind can tolerate.  We took this curiosity forward step-by-step, seeking to explain the world around us.