Otago Rugby helping researchers tackle concussion

Otago Rugby helping researchers tackle concussion

Otago Rugby is teaming up with university researchers for a ground-breaking study into concussion.

The provincial team will be fitted with electronic devices during their five home games.

Rugby players are used to coaches watching their every move on the field, but the Otago players will also have researchers keeping a close eye on them this season.

"What we're primarily interested in is to see how a player's neck strength correlates to the impacts they'll have over a season," says Dr Danielle Salmon.

At this level there are plenty of impacts, and little devices will measure the forces on a players head.

Researchers will then examine the relationship between those impacts and a player's neck.

It follows studies on American football players showing increased neck strength can reduce the risk of concussion.

"If the neck strength proves to correlate to these impacts that a player experiences, then it gives us a strong case to say we need to include these exercises as a preventative aspect for players," says Dr Salmon.

The players are happy to be guinea pigs.

"I think we're quite lucky as players and upcoming players who come through this team to know there are things like this in place," says Fa'asiu Fuata'i.

Coach Cory Brown says any information on concussion is helpful.

"If this information and data collected is able to help us with that - research around what kind of impacts they're taking - if we can make their careers longer, well that's even better."

Players have worn the devices during practice, but tomorrow will be the first game they'll be used in, and the first hurdle will be keeping the devices from sliding off the players' sweaty skin.