Dawn Gulick, Widener University – Innovating a Safer Way to Compete

On Widener University Week:  Even elite athletes have been adversely affected by COVID-19.

Dawn Gulick, professor of physical therapy, discusses a tool to help them get back to competing again.

Dawn Gulick is a professor of physical therapy at Widener University’s Institute for Physical Therapy Education.

Innovating a Safer Way to Compete


The COVID-19 pandemic impacted individuals, families and communities everywhere. Among the groups impacted most by the virus was competitive athletes. Widespread closures meant that competitions were put on hold while the world addressed the growing pandemic. When it came time to slowly return to adjusted routines, face covering guidelines, while necessary, made it challenging to practice and compete in a state of high intensity.

As a medical provider, educator and mother of a professional cyclist, we wanted to develop a tool that could help athletes return to competition. In collaboration with my daughter and engineers from Singularis Solutions, we did just that with the creation of the Achieve Mask.

The goal was to build a device so that athletes could safely train and be able to have some semblance of normalcy back in their lives. A return to exercise not only keeps them physically healthy, but it’s a major contributor to maintaining their psychological well-being.

Unlike other face masks, the Achieve Mask was created with a unique and flexible nose bridge through repurposing a material similar to a SAM splint, a foam coated soft aluminum used to treat sports injuries. This contour feature, along with antimicrobial moisture-wicking fabric, creates a comfortable fit without impeding breathing. We produced the versatile mask in two versions worn by athletes who compete with and without a helmet. We made it available on eBay. 

As society was in the midst of the pandemic, innovations like the Achieve Mask helped us to return to our everyday lives safely.

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