In a bid to understand the threat of concussion among rugby players, Saracens players wore impact-monitoring devices during a recent game against London Irish. As far as we know, this is unprecedented, and is set to make a real impact on what is a common brain injury for sports people.
Players from each of the backs and back row wore microchip devices, “X-patches”, behind their ear. The monitoring system allows researchers to measure the force and impact of any blows to the head as they happen during play.
Dianne Yates, Birchall Blackburn Law Partner and Head of Serious and Catastrophic Injury, said:
“Saracens should be commended for tackling the tough question of whether their players are sustaining brain injuries during rugby. This research is a welcome development and will hopefully help combat the often tragic and life changing consequences that such injury can give rise to.”
Following several high profile deaths caused by concussion – such as amateur player Kenny Nuzum – the sports world is finally taking the issue seriously. 2013 saw the tragic death of 14-year-old Ben Robinson, who died following knocks to the head whilst playing for his school. It was dubbed “rugby union’s dirty secret” by sports writers.
The risk of brain injury is shared by other sports, too
In October last year, a group of parents called for FIFA to limit under 17s from heading the ball. In a lawsuit filed against FIFA, the US parents claimed the governing body hadn’t done enough to protect young players from the medical risks of repeatedly heading the ball. At the time Dr Michael Grey, a motor neuro-science expert at the University of Birmingham, told the Daily Mail:
“The impact of the brain against the skull causes damage and children’s neck muscles are not developed enough to handle the shock of impact.”
Will the monitoring devices be embraced by the sports world?
The X Patch device was created by X2 Biosystems, a Seattle-based science and technology data company. They say their system can notify trainers, coaches, and physicians about impacts to players’ heads during play, which could help to inform in-game decisions and safety protocols.
Both Premiership Rugby and World Rugby said they were looking forward to learning about Saracens’ findings after using the X Patch. English Rugby announced a new Concussion Injuries Programme this year, which is a positive step. With more sports bodies and teams facing up to potential head injuries, devices like the X patch could prove invaluable.
If you’d like more information about sports brain injury, or advice from experienced and compassionate solicitors, contact our team on 0800 614 722. Our Serious and Catastrophic Injury team appreciate every client’s needs are different. We pride ourselves on our ability to grasp all the issues and details, to support you every step of the way.