The Blind Side of Rugby
Science Editor, Elinor Jones, discusses the hidden long-term effects of playing rugby, and the methods that are being implemented in the modern game to reduce them.
As the last pieces of merchandise from this year’s Rugby World Cup is packed away, fans from across the globe will be turning their attention to the Six Nations, with fierce debates and bets made. Instead, our attention should be turning to the less glamorous side of the sport, something that can quickly turn the game from a celebration of athleticism to irreversible brain damage: concussion.
Brain damage from sports such as rugby, ice hockey and American football is known in medical circles as chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), meaning every time the brain is hit by a significant force, it swells, altering the cells and proteins within it. This rapid decline in brain function can lead to addiction, mood problems and memory loss, with some athletes experiencing symptoms of dementia in their forties and fifties.
This rapid decline in brain function can lead to addiction, mood problems and memory loss, with some athletes experiencing symptoms of dementia in their forties and fifties.
However, governing bodies and researchers alike are altering game play to ensure safer collisions, especially at the youth level. The University of Bath studied the biomechanics of rugby scrums, reducing the impact on front row players and overall concussion injuries, making the game safer at all levels.
This means that injuries seen by the likes of Kyle Sinckler in this years World Cup Final, will soon hopefully be a thing of the past.