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Young rugby players at risk of memory loss and depression

Posted in: Head and Brain Injuries Sporting Injuries 

New research has revealed the extent to which rugby is damaging players, with harm being done as young as school age. Being such a high impact sport, injury is a common occurrence. However, researchers have found that at least one head injury or concussion occurs per match in the community game, with concussion equally common in children’s games. People are starting to question, for a game that features traumatic and repetitive brain injury as a routine occurrence, is it safe?

Rugby is a sport that continues to grow in popularity around the world. Because of this, the UK government has selected rugby union and rugby league as two of the five sports that will be focused on in their new plan to increase the prominence of competitive sports in English schools. Jeremy Hunt, the health secretary, has promised to work with a number of sports, including rugby, to establish at least 6,000 partnerships between schools and local sports clubs by 2017. The government aims to create around 1,300 links between schools and rugby union organisations, and 1,000 links with rugby league.

72% of doctors believe game should be made safer

Despite these progressions, research has uncovered a link between repeat concussions and mild cognitive impairment in young adult male rugby players, as well as an association with depression, memory loss and poorer verbal fluency. Researchers have also started to recognise a connection between repeat concussions and chronic traumatic encephalopathy – a progressive degenerative disease of the brain common amongst people with a history of repetitive brain trauma.

Where children are most susceptible to injuries such as concussion, and take far longer to recover, many have raised concerns over these new government plans. It has been speculated that the government should do more to improve safety in the sport before rolling it out across the country.

A British Medical Journal poll of doctors confirmed that 72% felt that the game should be made safer.

If you have suffered a sport-related or head injury, and are looking to claim compensation, please contact us.


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