Repeated concussion is linked to early-onset dementia and depression, and the rules for limiting concussion are an ongoing controversy. Successful training approaches to protect players from concussion carry significant health advantages. To this end, a thorough understanding of the dynamics of head impacts in rugby and the mechanism of concussion is required.
Research conducted by Irish Research Council PhD scholar Gregory Tierney with Dr Ciaran Simms at Trinity College Dublin’s Centre for Bioengineering in collaboration with the Oslo Sports Trauma Centre, Leinster Rugby and the IRFU focuses on using video evidence to establish the key kinematic scenarios that increase a player’s risk of concussion.
Key kinematic scenarios will then be analysed using a novel biomechanical assessment tool to extract the linear and rotational kinematic conditions of the concussive impacts and thus kinematic tolerance thresholds for concussion injuries in elite rugby union players can be established for the first time.
These kinematic conditions can then be used to greater understand the mechanism of concussion. The kinematic conditions can be inputted into a computer model of the brain to see exactly what strains are occurring within the brain and where. The kinematic conditions can also be inputted into impact simulation software to investigate the forces received by the player when concussed, then the player position upon impact can be changed to determine which positions yield the lowest kinematic values and forces. This can therefore be used to develop injury prevention strategies.
Results will be used to develop concussion-prevention training strategies that can be implemented by coaches into elite rugby player training programmes. These strategies can also be implemented at youth level in rugby.
Gregory Tierney, Irish Research Council PhD scholar at Trinity College Dublin’s Centre for Bioengineering
The research is funded by the Irish Research Council under its Government of Ireland Postgraduate Scholarship scheme. Gregory Tierney was awarded a Government of Ireland Postgraduate Scholarship by the Irish Research Council in 2014 and joined the Trinity Centre for Bioengineering in September 2014. His research was also awarded the best early stage PhD at the Bioengineering in Ireland conference in January 2015.
Trinity College Dublin
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