Study found that 50% of elite rugby players had an unexpected change in brain volume due to head impacts, the foundation that funded research calling for a change in rugby protocols for their well-being long-term.
The study, funded by the Drake Foundation, found that around 23% of gamers also had abnormalities in the brain’s white matter structure and blood vessels.
Head injuries, concussions and their potential long-term health impact have been in the spotlight in rugby since former players filed a class action lawsuit against governing bodies including World Rugby alleging failure to minimize the risks.
“Common sense dictates that the number and ferocity of impacts, both in training and in play, must be drastically reduced,” foundation founder James Drake said in a statement.
“Since rugby became more professional in the 1990s, the game has changed beyond recognition. Players are now generally bigger and more powerful, so we need to be aware of all the ramifications that increased impacts will have on their bodies. “
Many former players have been diagnosed with permanent brain damage, dementia premature, depression or symptoms and signs of chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE).
Richard Boardman of Rylands Law, who represents former professional gamers with brain injuries who are taking legal action against the governing bodies, said the study’s results were “shocking.”
“The gladiators of ancient Rome would not be happy (with the numbers in the study),” Boardman said.
“Does this mean that potentially half of the British and Irish Lions team playing… have brain dysfunction?” If so, they haven’t signed up for it.
“Second, the people tested – the average age was 25 – were so young. In fact, we strongly believe that the percentage of older retired rugby players with brain damage is likely to be even higher. “
A parliamentary committee report released Thursday said the UK government had been urged to impose a minimum standard protocol for concussions in all sports to reduce the risk of brain damage in athletes.
“I hope that the reckless, muscular and Christian approach to ‘survival of the fittest’ contact sports in the UK, in place since the 19th century, comes to an end,” Boardman added.
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