Trinity Alum and Entrepreneur Working to Reduce Brain Injuries

Dan T. Moore says Ice Hockey Helmets are among the Worst in Sports

HARTFORD, CT, April 25, 2014 – In May and June of 2007, Dan T. Moore ’63, took a motorcycle tour from Istanbul, Turkey to Xian, China. In 2009, he rode his motorcycle along the U.S. Continental Divide. And in 2010, he traveled by motorcycle from Alaska to Montana, completing a 22,000-mile trip of the Americas.

Years earlier, his daughter Wendy tragically passed away from a traumatic brain injury (TBI) following a skiing accident.

So when Moore, the founder of 15 manufacturing and technology companies in Cleveland, Ohio, talks about helmets and their relative effectiveness in preventing head and neck injuries, he’s worth listening to. Several dozen students and faculty did just that during a Common Hour Thursday during which he spoke about helmets and how they could be – and should be -- redesigned to avert serious brain injuries.

Among the companies that Moore has founded is Team Wendy, which he established in 1997 as a memorial to his daughter. Since then, Team Wendy has focused largely on developing leading-edge products that serve to prevent serious and potentially life-threatening impact-related injuries. The protective products and gear are used by thousands of people worldwide, including the U.S. military. Moore said that one-third of the American combatants who served in Iraq or Afghanistan suffered some form of head trauma.

Team Wendy produces a line of recreational helmets using Zorbium, a patented viscoelastic energy-absorbing foam. Zorbium is also used in the Army’s new advanced combat helmet and in other applications requiring energy-absorbing materials.

A graduate of Trinity with a degree in economics and the recipient of an MBA from the Harvard Graduate School of Business Administration, Moore spent most of the Common Hour talking about the use of helmets in various athletic activities.

He noted that rotational injuries are the worst because of the twisting action to the neck and spine, and that most of the research that’s been done to date has focused on helmet-to-helmet impact. “What we need to do is develop better testing,” Moore said.

Although he singled out rock climbers as the most foolhardy for failing to wear helmets, thus inviting serious injury, he had the harshest view of ice hockey helmets, which he claimed are virtually useless, providing little to no protection. “Hockey helmets are no good,” he said. “It will be difficult to change [the culture] but it’s really important that we try.”

In contrast, Moore described football helmets as “really good” and “hard to improve.” He said what needs to be done to prevent concussions is to change the rules.

“Even with better helmets, concussions will not be eliminated,” he said, noting pessimistically that if “something isn’t done, the game will cease to exist.”

In recent years, researchers have linked concussions – particularly to football players, but also to soccer and ice hockey players – to a dramatic rise in various neurological ailments, including dementia, Parkinson’s, slurred speech, memory loss and Alzheimer’s.

In March, a federal court judge set aside a $765 million settlement between the National Football League and 4,500 retirees who sued the league because of what they claimed was the league’s failure to be mindful of head injuries and take proper precautions. The judge said the money could fall short of what may be needed to compensate all of the current and past players.

And a New York Times’ study showed that, since 1997, at least 50 high school or younger football players in more than 20 states have been killed or have sustained serious head injuries on the field.

In terms of soccer, whose players don’t wear helmets but who often hit the ball with their heads, Moore said females have up to three times the number of injuries than men, in part due to the fact that their necks are not as strong. That speaks to his theory that twisting or whiplash is more of a factor in causing injuries than direct impact.

In conclusion, Moore said several things should be done to reduce TBI:

•    Make the wearing of helmets compulsory.

•    Strengthen the protocols used by medical personnel and coaches when determining if a player should return to the field of play. “When they show signs of disorientation and they’ve had their bell rung,” they should be kept on the sidelines, Moore said.

•    Change the rules of the games to reduce the risk of head injury.

•    Make professional sports subject to the same safety rules as private companies are subject to under the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA).

•    Step up the development of drugs that will combat brain injury. He particularly cited N-acetylcysteine (NAC), which is emerging as a useful agent in the treatment of psychiatric disorders.

“The risk-taking by this generation is crazy,” said Moore. In the future, “it’s going to be very rare that football players are not going to have some type of head injury.”

The Dan T. Moore Company is the parent holding company of a diverse portfolio of companies that share a creative entrepreneurial spirit. The companies range from manufacturing and distribution to real estate renovation, marina operations and government contracting. Operations and corporate management are centralized in Cleveland, with sales to a global customer base.