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09-28-06, 05:48 AM #1
Guarding our troops: Marines have their eye on local dentist’s invention that prevent
MAHER MOUTH GUARD - Guarding our troops: Marines have their eye on local dentist’s invention that prevents concussions
By JOHN ZAREMBA
The Patriot Ledger
WEYMOUTH - It’s a simple device - just a wire and two clear acrylic pieces.
But the Maher Mouth Guard has prevented concussions for thousands of athletes, and now the Marine Corps is hoping it will do the same for troops in Iraq.
Its inventor, Dr. Gerald Maher of Marshfield, whose practice is in Weymouth, says military doctors have asked him to show them how to make it so they can keep Marines from suffering concussions while fighting insurgents in Fallujah.
The problem, Maher suspects, comes from a newly designed Marine helmet, which, like a football helmet, protects the head well but has a taut, rigid chin strap.
‘‘It’s got to be taking the (jaw joint) and shoving it into the brain,’’ said Maher, who is the team dentist for the New England Patriots.
The Maher Mouth Guard rests on the lower teeth and prevents concussions by bringing the jaw down and slightly forward. It absorbs force - be it from a charging linebacker or a roadside explosion - and prevents concussions by keeping the jaw in place.
It is worn by sports professionals and high school athletes, and people who have used them say they work.
Duxbury High School fitted several players with them last year, and none has since suffered a concussion while playing. All had at least one previously, and one had at least four.
‘‘The kids love them,’’ Duxbury High School Athletic Director Thom Holdgate said. ‘‘They’re not cumbersome at all, and they obviously do what they’re supposed to.’’
Maher said the Marine Corps is interested in making 10,000 to start. If they work, that number will go up to 100,000, and the Corps will advise other branches of the military to use them as well.
Maher’s company is working out a government contract to get started on the work, but he says he is willing to do away with the red tape and forsake any profits if it means getting the mouth guards over to Iraq sooner.
‘‘I’m just trying to facilitate it,’’ Maher, who served eight years in the Army, said. ‘‘If I can do it for free and that will speed it along, I’ll do it.’’
John Zaremba may be reached at email@example.com .
IN LOVING MEMORY OF MY LATE HUSBAND, SSgt Roger A. Alfano, USMC
ONE PROUD MARINE
Once a Marine...Always a Marine
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