Fla. — Alan Philipson is tackling the problem of head injuries
from a different angle — by working out the neck.
by studies showing a link between concussions and neck strength,
the entrepreneur has created the Cervifit, a portable device
that uses small weights to build up neck muscles.
tough ABS plastic, the Cervifit works as a fulcrum, with a set
of small, 4- and 5-pound iron weights stacked at the top.
Strapped to the head, it creates up to 40 pounds of resistance
when the wearer performs a series of neck lifts and other
first clients: Fort Lauderdale race car driver Ryan Hunter-Reay,
who won his first Indianapolis 500 this May.
think it definitely has a lot of potential. With G-forces up to
four times (normal weight) in an Indy car on turns, it
definitely helped strengthen my neck," said Hunter-Reay,
adding that he used the Cervifit to prepare for this spring’s
Jonathan Kline, based in South Florida, said he saw such
potential in the Cervifit that he ordered eight devices to give
to player clients, including Willie Snead, who just signed with
the Cleveland Browns, and Derrick Strozier, who joined the New
Orleans Saints last week. A local high school football coach
ordered six for his football team after seeing one of his
players — the son of Philipson’s girlfriend — using a
prototype during workouts, Philipson said.
concussion issue is a huge issue in the NFL … and at all
levels of football," Kline said, adding that "if my
guys like it, a couple use it and achieve some level of success
with it," it could catch on with "everyone who worries
created the Cervifit — now available to the general public for
$129.99 at a2fit.com — out of a longtime fascination with
medical devices. A walk-on fullback for Florida State University
in 1989, he suffered two concussions during his youth, he said.
playing with the Cervifit concept as a marketing project while
pursuing his master’s in business administration. A fitness
buff who worked as a personal trainer while making his way
through school, Philipson said he realized there was no
portable, affordable equipment to help those wanting to
strengthen their neck muscles, outside of weight machines found
$75,000 investment from Philipson’s mother, the Cervifit was
patented and went into production in November, he said.
has no medical training, Philipson’s first flirtation with
innovation came when he designed a double-cuff exercise device
that worked out the injured and dominant limbs simultaneously,
to reduce overcompensation. Called the Aztec, the device was
patented but never went to market.
always had an inventive side of me," said Philipson, whose
father holds a number of product patents. "I think it’s
just in my DNA."
is not just for football players or race car drivers negotiating
G-force turns. Two Florida doctors who advised Philipson on the
Cervifit are also recommending it to patients to improve
balance, prevent falls and treat head and neck pain.
me, it’s a nice, non-medicinal way to help patients with
chronic neck pain," as well as those suffering migraines or
hoping to avoid a repeat concussion, said Dr. Jeffrey Steinberg,
a neurologist who helped Philipson and his company, Anatomical
Architects, fine tune the Cervifit.
experts have long zeroed in on the neck’s implication in head
injuries, theorizing that girl soccer and lacrosse players
suffer more concussions than boys because of inferior neck
strength. Last year, a Colorado School of Public Health study
bolstered that idea, finding that of 6,704 young athletes
followed during the 2010-11 and 2011-12 academic years, those
who suffered concussions were more likely to have a smaller neck
circumference, less overall neck strength and a smaller
goes that the neck acts as a shock absorber of sorts for the
head. The stronger the neck, the better it can control the head
in abrupt movements and prevent the brain from sloshing around
in the skull, a violent force that causes concussions.
independent expert agrees the concept "makes sense,"
given the body of research on concussions and neck strength. He
noted, however, that there are no empirical studies that take
the theory a step further to show neck-strengthening devices —
or even helmets, for that matter — reduce concussions.
the neck in contact sports is a great idea," said Dr. Evan
Peck, a sports medicine physician at Cleveland Clinic Florida,
declining to comment specifically on the Cervifit because he was
unfamiliar with the device. "But I don’t know if we can
make the leap yet that it prevents concussions."
the device is still new, extensive research has not yet been
conducted on its effectiveness. One is planned in the next six
months. In the meantime, it is advised that anyone using the
device should be trained on its proper, safe use by an
experienced professional such as a doctor or personal trainer.