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⭐Upside Chat with Dr Theo Versteegh, CEO/CTO of Topspin Technologies Ltd, A leading Vendor in Concussion Risk Reduction
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⭐Upside Chat with Dr Theo Versteegh, CEO/CTO of Topspin Technologies Ltd, A leading Vendor in Concussion Risk Reduction

Transcript

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Today we have the honor of interviewing Dr. Theo Versteegh, Co-Founder and CEO/CTO of Topspin Technologies LTD, the creator of the TopSpin360, a neck training device used for concussion risk reduction. It is the first patented multi-planar dynamic neuromuscular neck strengthening device that strengthens the neck in a manner consistent with the science on how to prevent concussions. TopSpin360 is also the winner of the NFL 1st and Future Award for Innovations to Advance Athlete Health and Safety.

So how does the TopSpin360 work?

It trains the neck to stabilize the head in space. This specific training approach dramatically reduces the incidence and severity of concussions.

It is a training device attached to a modified football helmet. The top of the helmet has a centrally mounted axis with a small weight. The users put the helmet on, and then by coordinating their neck, they begin to spin the weight. The faster they get the weight spinning, the more centripetal force is generated, much like a hula hoop for the head. As the force increases, the faster the neck muscles must respond and react to constantly stabilize the head against the ever-changing multi-planar load. While the user is training on the device, a live, objective measurement of their neck strength is shown in multiplanar rate of force development (in pounds of force per second) on the Bluetooth-connected TopSpin360 application.

The Detroit Lions (NFL) have been using their product this season and are the only NFL team with zero games missed from concussion and neck injuries.

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The TopSpin360 has been used by athletes in the NFL, NHL, NCAA, USports and more who want to take an active approach to manage their own concussion risk.

📝Show Notes: Through this interview, we touched on his background, and his company and product. We also discussed the benefits for sports organizations and athletes to use their product. Lastly we talked about their competitive advantage, business model and plans for the next 12 months.

Best Quotes: Here’s some of the key discussion points and best quotes from our conversation with Theo:

  • On Theo’s background and how he got the idea of building the TopSpin360 after watching on TV Sidney Crosby (Penguins/NHL) suffer his second concussion:

    • “I'm a physical therapist. I've been practicing sports medicine for over 25 years now and I guess it’s been about 12 years since the whole concept came around. I played rec beer league hockey up here in Canada and we were sitting in the bar afterwards and Sidney Crosby had just suffered his second concussion, the one that kept him out for about 11 months”.

    • “So, they showed the hit that Sidney took and with my physio background, I couldn't help but notice how much his head whipped around and I thought if his neck was stronger, he wouldn't have had such a violent concussion”.

    • “It looked like his head was barely attached. So that got me thinking about neck training and how you'd strengthen the neck. And back when I played football, we had what's called the four-way neck machine. You kind of sit down, you put your face on this pad and you push it forward, push it back, push it side to side”.

    • “And that got me thinking that it will strengthen the neck and get you better at pushing forward, pushing back and pushing side to side, but it doesn't incorporate the rotational components of strengthening and stabilizing the neck. And the other thing is it doesn't train the neck eccentrically. It doesn't train the neck to absorb a load. It trains it to generate a load. But to help avoid a concussion you need to train it to absorb that load”.

    • “It's a different type of contraction and those muscles have to kick in as quickly as possible. You have to focus on the fastest twitch muscle fibers. The type IIX fibers, which are about three times faster than the type IIA fibers. Traditional neck strengthening by taking that heavy weight and pushing against it, preferentially strengthens the type IIA fibers to the detriment of the type IIX fibers”.

    • “I was thinking about all these things and trying to come up with a concept that strengthens the neck appropriately, eccentrically, fully multi-planar where you've got that rotational component, which enhances the fastest twitch muscle fibers and the protective neuromuscular control”.

  • On how the TopSpin360 works to help reduce athletes’ concussion risks:

    • “And so, it ends up being a fairly tall order for developing a method of neck training that covers all those bases. I spent a lot of time working on different concepts and different approaches before finally coming up with what's now the TopSpin360”.

    • “It trains the neck to stabilize the head in space. More specifically, it's a multi-planar, dynamic neuromuscular neck training device that what we've seen dramatically reduces the incidence and severity of concussions”.

    • “It looks absolutely absurd. It's a modified football helmet. It has on top of it, a centrally mounted axis with a small weight. You have the helmet on, and then with coordinating your neck, you get the weight spinning”.

    • “And then the faster you get that weight spinning, like a hula hoop for the head, the more centripetal force is generated. The faster the neck muscles must respond and react to constantly stabilize the head against the ever-changing load. The metric that we use is multiplanar rate of force development (RFD) in pounds of force per second”.

  • On how the TopSpin360 helps athletes stabilize their head in space and helps strengthens their neck which dramatically reduces concussion risks:

    • “As players get better, they're able to get higher and higher RFD scores. And we've got athletes who will start less than five pounds of force and in some cases, less than one pound of force per second, and they're getting over 30 to 40 pounds of force per second. We see dramatic improvements in their dynamic multiplanar neck strength”.

    • “What we're seeing is that these athletes have dramatically lower concussion risk and incidents because they have a stronger, more responsive neck. They're able to stabilize their head in space and prevent that kind of whipping back and jostling around of the brain and the nervous tissue”.

  • On which clinical and medical, military organizations are using the TopSpin360 today and the studies that they are currently doing:

    • “We've got the Mayo Clinic who is doing some research on us. We're installed with all the Canadian military physical therapy clinics with research underway, and we've got a large 400-athlete study underway here in Canada”.

  • On how the TopSpin360 has helped the Lions (NFL) dramatically reduce their athletes’ concussions this season:

    • “Right now, we've got one NFL team that is fully committed, and that has been training the entire team since the off-season, the Detroit Lions. The other 31 NFL teams had a concussion and/or neck injury that kept a player out of a game at an average of 2.7 games into the season”.

    • “The Detroit Lions have now just completed week 17 and they've had zero head and neck injuries impacting players during games, because of our product. We are extremely confident in saying that because the results that the Lions are seeing are consistent with every other team that we've been working with”.

    • “Due to head and neck injuries last year the Detroit Lions were in the millions of lost player salaries due to head and neck injuries. This year, they're now at zero. And that translates into more wins as well”.

  • On how they helped an NCAA women’s volleyball team (Citadel Women's Volleyball Team) go from being one of the worst teams in its division to winning their conference:

    • “That translates to more wins, which at the end of the day, the teams’ mainly care about whether they can win more games, right? Our first volleyball team was the Citadel Women's Volleyball Team. The Citadel were an all-male institution up until the 90s. Their women’s team was the worst team in the Southern Conference for 20 years straight. Their average conference record during that span was 1-17. In 2018, they were the worst team in the Southern Conference again, but the head coach noticed that he had eight concussions on a team of 13”.

    • “So, he reached out to us. He asked, hey, will this thing work with women's volleyball? I'm like, yeah, it'll work with any high-risk sport. They started training between 2018 to 2019. After implementing the TopSpin360, they went through three consecutive zero concussion seasons, and they won the Southern Conference Championship”.

    • “In 2023, they had a zero-concussion season and they were the second last undefeated team in the entire NCAA”.

  • On the fact that teams only need to use the TopSpin360 2 minutes per session twice a week to see results:

    • “It is incredibly time efficient. The results that we see with two minutes of training twice a week are incredible. So literally we're talking four minutes of training load per week”.

  • On the fact that NFL teams are occurring a 100 million dollars in lost players salary productivity from head and neck injuries across the other 31 teams in the NFL":

    • “On the cost and lost player salary, this week, when we look at it, it will be over 100 million dollars in lost players salary productivity [from head and neck injuries] across the other 31 teams in the NFL, whereas the Detroit Lions are sitting at zero”.

  • On the benefits (reduction in concussion risks and lower extremity injuries) for teams to use the TopSpin360:

    • “And what we've seen is teams that use the TopSpin360 dramatically reduce their instances of head and neck injuries, but also even lower extremity injuries. Now, this part is a little bit harder to kind of wrap-around”.

    • “Why does improving dynamic neck strength reduce lower extremity injuries? We've seen that it does and one of the things that is well established in the literature is that with a history of concussion, you're 3 to 6 times more likely to suffer another concussion, but you're also 3 times more likely to suffer from a lower extremity injury after a concussion”.

    • “There's nothing else like our product on the market today”.

  • On their business and pricing model:

    • “It's a purchase of the devices. We've got four sizes, small, medium, large, and extra large size. The most common sizes would be medium and large. For bigger teams like rugby and football, it would be extra large”.

    • “It retails for $2500 a device and with that, you get free access to the app, which time and date stamps every training session and records the performance with the performance metric, RFD I was mentioning. It is proven to be an incredibly accurate proxy for assessing someone's concussion risk going forward”.

  • On their plans for the next 12 months:

    • “We're mainly looking at just more market penetration and getting more awareness of our product and the scope and capability of our product. And, as I mentioned, it's a bit unbelievable when you first hear about it, the actual results that we're seeing with the dramatic reduction in incidents and severity of concussions just across the board with all of the teams that have been using us and fully implemented”.

  • On the best way to reach out to Theo:

    • “The easiest way to reach out to me would be to send me an email. I'm happy to chat and you can send me an email at theo@topspin360.com”.

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