HomeUncategorizedNRL Launches Ground-breaking Head Injury And Brain Health Study

NRL Launches Ground-breaking Head Injury And Brain Health Study

NRL Launches Ground-breaking Head Injury And Brain Health Study

The NRL has announced a partnership with the University of Newcastle and the Spaulding Research Institute at Harvard Medical School to form the Retired Professional Rugby League Players Brain Health Study.

The study will examine up to 100 former NRL players each year, looking into head injuries and brain injuries in collision sports, with pre-season neurological testing of current players also set to aid the research.

The international research program is aimed at providing a greater understanding of head injuries and is expected to continue for decades, with support from the Rugby League Players Association (RLPA) and Men of League.

Lead researcher from the University of Newcastle, Dr Andrew Gardner, said the records of current or recently retired NRL players would provide greater accuracy as they undergo testing before each season, which is detailed in the CSx database management system.

“Having the opportunity to characterise the exposure is very, very important and that is what those platforms are able to do in much greater detail than has been done in the past,” Gardner said.

“Players that are going through their careers right now will be able to come into this program.

“It is a longitudinal program, so we are going to be conducting this for many, many years to come.

“We will be using that information as those players come through but we don’t have that information for all of the players that have already been through the program and who are in their 60s, 70s and 80s now because they didn’t have that program previously, but we will certainly be using that data moving forward,” he said, speaking about the CSx database management system, which is currently used to complete pre-season neurological testing of current players.

NRL chief medical officer, Dr Paul Bloomfield, said the database system is reliable and in depth.

“They do go through a check list with the researchers to try and estimate their exposure, but they are now going to have a record that is easier to access and maintain,” Bloomfield said.

“All players, including those in the state cups in Queensland and NSW, now use the CSx platform, which is a record of the player’s baseline SCATs, which are their assessments pre-season, and that also captures any concussions they may have.

“If a player becomes a part of the study, they will have access to that information.

“Some of the research has been going on for a while with smaller numbers but the extra funding the NRL will provide enables the numbers to increase significantly straight away,” he said.

The NRL has already committed $250,000 to the program, which Dr Gardner said will help to significantly progress the scientific knowledge in the field.

“This financial support will allow us to build on the evidence we have accumulated with this research program to date and enable us to significantly increase the number of retired professional players we recruit to the program each year,” Gardner said.

Also leading the program is Harvard’s professor, Grant Iverson, who said the research will transform our understanding of later-in-life brain health of athletes from collision sports.

“Our team will combine expertise and resources to accelerate the pace of this science, disseminate the findings to the medical and scientific community, and translate the knowledge gained to improve health care for retired NRL players and other former athletes worldwide,” Iverson said.

Along with the study, a brain donation program for former NRL players has also been established with the Sydney Brain Bank, funded by Neuroscience Research Australia and UNSW.

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