“Scientists warn tackles, not just concussions, are to blame.”
In previous articles, we have talked about the prohibition of different rugby and soccer federations in North America and the United Kingdom (read HERE), to play with the head. The main argument is that these players are still growing and are more sensitive to injuries. This issue is the subject of debate, not only among professionals but also among amateur players and health authorities in Anglo-Saxon countries.
It appears that professional rugby players are exposed to thousands of “blows” each season, in matches and in training sessions.
An article published in Mail Online – Daily Mail on August 31, based on a study by the University of South Wales, addresses this topic. It states that the brain function of professional rugby players begins to deteriorate after just one season.
The researchers evaluated the players of a United Rugby Championship team in the preseason, midseason and postseason. All the players suffered a decrease in both blood flow to the brain and in cognition (the ability to reason, remember and generate ideas), before and after the season.
While previous research pointed to concussions as a great danger, the study warned that repeated confrontations with other players, even if not directly to the head, also cause damage. The research team states that more research is needed on the long-term effects.
The study also found that repetitive blows, rather than a simple concussion, cause brain deterioration.
Rugby was put under the microscope last year when a group of eight former players sued the game’s governing body after being diagnosed with dementia; Among them, Steve Thompson, 43, won the Rugby World Cup with England in 2003. According to the former player, his illness was caused by damage suffered on the field.
Studies have also long linked head trauma and in certain elite sports, such as football and boxing, to Alzheimer’s and other neurological diseases.
Research from the University of South Wales, we quote above, has found that professional rugby players experience “decreased brain function” after just one season. The study also found that repetitive blows, rather than a simple concussion, cause brain deterioration. Also, only six concussions were recorded among players who participated during the season.
From a bioethical perspective, if the results of the study are confirmed, the health authorities and the different associations of these sports should take urgent measures to stop these serious effects. It would also be necessary to inform all players and the general public about the proven risks of these sports and evaluate the necessity to protocolize their consent in this matter.