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Revolutionary study to research whether wearing headgear can reduce brain injury in rugby

  • 21.12.2022
  • EmmaArnold
  • None
  • Brain Injury Personal Injury brain injury in sport

A new study launched yesterday to research the effectiveness of wearing headgear to reduce brain injury whilst playing rugby.

Researchers will begin the Rugby Headgear Effectiveness Study next year to see if a new design scrum cap can help reduce brain injuries during rugby because standard padded headgear does not currently provide any protection to the brain.

The aim is to field test new designs of rugby headgear to help prevent brain injuries with the N-Pro Headguard being the first to be approved to trial under the World Rugby framework.

A consultant neurosurgeon, Dr Philip O’Halloran, will be involved to independently assess the effect of the headgear by using state-of-the-art blood and saliva biomarkers, neuro-imaging, instrumented mouth guards and neurocognitive tests. Commenting on the launch of the study, he said:

“It represents an important piece of the jigsaw of what is an ongoing international collective effort to protect amateur and professional players. Our attention will now turn to recruiting participants for the study. I would encourage players from clubs and schools to consider getting involved with the study.”

The Rugby Headgear Effectiveness Study will take place in Ireland under real-world playing conditions focussing on male and female rugby players aged 16 years and older, over the course of two consecutive playing seasons between August 2023 and May 2025.

The Irish Rugby Football Union (IRFU) is supporting the study which they feel encourages their approach for a commitment to ongoing education, monitoring and application of safety protocols across the game.

Gary Herbert, Partner in personal injury at Potter Rees Dolan, said:

“This is a really interesting study and the fact that it is led by a Neurosurgeon is very encouraging. Anything that can be done to reduce the impact on the head of any collision must be positive and it needs to be evaluated carefully. Based on the knowledge that brain injuries can occur when the brain is shaken as well as when the head is struck, it is important that any positive outcomes from this study are used in addition to the current protections in place, rather than used to reduce the other measures.” 

Gary Herbert is a Partner in personal injury here at Potter Rees Dolan. Should you have any queries about a head injury in sport or indeed any other aspect of personal injury and wish to speak to Gary or any other member of the team, please contact us on 0800 027 2557 or contact Gary directly.

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