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Amateur football should have guidance on head injuries in place next month

Rugby players wear impact sensors during matches for first time

Data on head impacts in rugby games will be gathered by Saracens

26 February 2015

A professional rugby club, Saracens, initiated the use of impact monitors for the first time during a match on 3 January 2015 when the team played London Irish.
 
The Saracens players wore impact sensors during the match which could be seen taped behind their ears.  The device, the xPatch has been developed by a company in Seattle, X2 Bio-systems.  
 
The device is extremely light and players report that they soon forget that it is there.  The xPatch measures the force and direction of impact to the head and will help the club gather vital data to assess the long-term consequences of head impacts during rugby games.
 
Data gathered by the device is downloaded after the match for analysis, but new sensors will be able to provide real-time data which may help to determine whether or not a player should leave the field of play when they have suffered a head clash.
 
There has been much debate in the rugby world about the long-term health effects of regular impacts to the head which many players experience throughout their careers. 
 
A number of retired players have been forced to leave the game because of the effects of concussion.
 
In the US the National Football League noted in 2010 that many of its ex-players were suffering from chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), a progressive degenerative disease that affects some athletes who have experienced repetitive brain trauma, such as in rugby or American football matches.  
 
In 2014 a federal judge approved a settlement that will benefit thousands of NFL players who have suffered concussion-type injuries.
 
The Professional Game Board (PGB) of English rugby updated its advice on head injuries in January 2014 to ensure that players who have suffered a head injury do not return to the field. 
 
Edward Griffiths, chief executive of Saracens, said: “We’re collecting data because we want answers. In simple terms, we don’t want to meet our players in 20 or 25 years’ time, to find them suffering from dementia or any similar condition, and to reflect we suspected something was going on but we didn’t really know. We want to know.”

Personal injury lawyer and Leigh Day partner, Daniel Easton, commented:

“It is fantastic that Saracens have taken the initiative in this research and commendable that they are seeking to improve safety in the game.

“The more that can be done to ensure that players enjoy rugby safely the better”.

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