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The Drake Foundation, Saracens F.C., and University College London at the forefront of on-field concussion research

The Drake Foundation, Saracens F.C., and University College London at the forefront of on-field concussion research

The Drake Foundation is funding a pioneering study in the UK to investigate the short-term and long-term consequences of concussion in a cohort of professional rugby union athletes. In collaboration with Saracens F.C. and leading experts at University College London (UCL), the study will involve detailed assessments of in-game exposure to head impact and investigate both the short- and long-term neurological consequences.

In January 2015, following an approach from James Drake of The Drake Foundation to set up a research project to study the effects of concussion, Saracens players began wearing impact sensors produced by X2 Bio-systems in Seattle which measure the force and direction of impact to the head. This ongoing concussion study will continue into the 2015/16 season with the use of blood samples for injury identification as the latest element of the ground breaking programme to determine the effects of concussion on rugby players.

The data will be collected by researchers at University College London under the guidance of leading neurologists Professor Huw Morris and Professor John Hardy and assisted by Professor Henrik Zetterberg who has studied the effects of concussion in ice hockey.

The study will measure a range of information that includes biomarker data, in-game accelerometric, video, and other performance data. In addition, neuroimaging data in a long-term cohort will also be assessed to give a comprehensive assessment into the effects of head impact in rugby players. It is hoped that the results will not only inform protocols for injury identification, but also increase scientific understanding of this complex subject that will be of benefit to current athletes. The study is proposed to run over the next three years.

James Drake, Chairman and Founder of The Drake Foundation, comments;

“We are excited to collaborate with Saracens F.C. and UCL in realizing our initial idea for this study and advance research in sports-related concussions. There is a pressing need to better understand the biology of head injuries, and we hope that the results will give evidence-based facts to improve measures for participant safety in contact sports.”