The Drake Foundation is a not-for-profit organisation committed to understanding and improving the health and welfare of people impacted by head injuries, including sports players and IPV survivors, through scientific research and collaboration. This research will also inform the understanding of neurodegenerative diseases in the wider population, and hopefully ultimately one day enable us to mitigate against disease risk. Launched in 2014, we have already invested over £2.2 million into research funding and open access resources that unite sport, science and society.
Much of our work has centred on concussion and head injuries in sport – our projects have brought together the brightest minds across science and sport, investigating the diagnosis, pathology, prevalence and management of concussions, primarily in rugby and football. We believe the knowledge from these projects will serve not only to improve sports safety, but also provide valuable insights into the processes underlying neurodegenerative diseases, such as dementia.
We started our work in rugby union, where 2016/17 season statistics demonstrated concussions to be the most common of all match injuries with 169 concussions recorded across the season. Over the years since we began our work in this area, the issue of sport and head injury has gained increasing attention from across the globe and a range of sports.
Since our inception, we have funded eight ground-breaking research projects to provide an evidence-based understanding of the link between sport-related head impacts and long-term health outcomes. The majority of these projects focus on populations of players from rugby and football, including HEADING, BRAIN and the Drake Rugby Biomarker Study.
In 2021, we expanded our scope to investigate brain health outcomes in people who have experienced IPV (intimate partner violence). As with our research in sport-associated head injuries, it is expected that the Drake IPV Programme will contribute a wider understanding of brain injury and its outcomes across society.
The aim of all our research and educational projects is not only to affect positive change in professional sport, but also to consider how findings can be translated into grassroot sports settings and may benefit wider society.