Rugby Pitchside Concussion Test Could Be Available Within 5 Years


A pitchside test to determine concussion could be available within five years after academics began work on a study hoping to use examination of a rugby player’s eye to detect the brain injury within a matter of seconds.

Using equipment already available in hospitals or at opticians, the study, being carried out at Sheffield Hallam university, proposes to identify change to the structure of the eye when concussion occurs. By comparing the data with healthy readings, an injured player could be diagnosed on the field.

During this Rugby World Cup players suspected of concussion are temporarily withdrawn to undergo a head injury assessment which involves a series of cognitive, balance and memory tests but is still, to an extent, subjective. Players can also be reluctant to leave the field for the assessment, as seen with Dan Biggar’s furious outburst at being withdrawn from the closing stages of Wales’s quarter-final defeat by South Africa.

Biggar’s response to his withdrawal demonstrates the difficulties in safeguarding against concussion within rugby union even if there have been significant changes in attitude in the past couple of years. High-profile incidents involving the Wales wing George North and the England full-back Mike Brown during this year’s Six Nations have also put the issue at the top of the agenda.

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