Mom says 'No' to cauliflower ears
It has long been the rugby players' curse - but a mother might have found a way of preventing cauliflower ears.
Brenda Phillips, a dental technician in Northern Ireland, whose son has played rugby all his life, has invented a silicon ear guard to prevent injury and protect cartilage.
The invention is already in use by rugby players, judo professionals and wrestlers. The rugby mum hopes to roll it out for all contact sports.
Phillips said: "Cauliflower ears aren't nice to look at. But it isn't just about aesthetics, they can be very painful and can cause permanent ear damage."
Her son, Connor, 23, wears the guards she makes.
She said she came up with the idea four years ago while watching a game of rugby.
"I was sitting watching TV with Connor. John Afoa [former Ulster player] had a piece of cotton wool, or some sort of protection, on his ear. He got tackled and his ear burst open again.
"I said: 'In this day and age, why have we not got some protection for our ears?' Those horrible cauliflower ears - who wants to have those?
"If you get enough damage to the ear it can cause the canal to swell so it can affect your hearing. It can be expensive to fix."
Phillips started her own dental laboratory 18 years ago in her living room. Two years ago she bought an old church hall, which now serves as her family business, Lambeg Dental Laboratory, which she runs with her son and daughter.
It is from there that Caulear Protection Ear Shields are manufactured.
She said: "That day, watching John Afoa, I said 'I'm going to make something.' I took an impression of Connor's ear and made an ear shield. Now his ears are protected. The checks have been done and as far as I am aware there is nothing else like this in the world. A patent is pending.
"It's early days but there is a lot of interest. [The shields] are compact. You can hear with them and you have full view with them. I believe this is the way forward for all contact sports."