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UK experts meet to discuss concussion in sport

With growing media attention and public concern regarding concussion in sport and limited understanding of its potential long-term effects, experts from across the UK are coming together to share knowledge and strengthen research collaborations.

This Wednesday sees experts from across the country come together for the First Annual UK Sports Concussion Research Symposium. Being held at Twickenham Stadium (London, UK), the event has been organised and sponsored by not-for-profit The Drake Foundation, in partnership with the Rugby Football Union (RFU) and The Football Association (FA).

Speakers on the day include representatives from both the RFU and FA, in addition to researchers from groups at the forefront of concussion research in the UK. The event will allow researchers to present preliminary plans for research projects in areas such as biomarker identification and imaging, evaluation of treatment approaches and studies designed to identify the potential long-term consequences of concussion, with a look towards sharing new findings and approaches. Breakout groups will look to identify key gaps in the research landscape and explore how sport and academic departments can collaborate more effectively to help develop our understanding of concussion.

The organisers of the event hope it will serve to build the foundation for better collaborations within the UK concussion research network and help to accelerate meaningful developments and discovery in this fast-changing field.

Velicia Bachtiar, Chief Scientific Officer at The Drake Foundation, explained: “It’s fantastic to see so many UK-based leaders come together for this research symposium. Their participation, and the involvement of the RFU and FA as co-organisers, clearly demonstrates how seriously this issue is being taken. We hope the day will facilitate meaningful research collaborations between sporting and academic leaders to ultimately improve the safety of participants in sport.”

Simon Kemp, Chief Medical Officer at the Rugby Football Union, said: “Player welfare is a key priority for all those involved with rugby in England with our work around concussion focusing on monitoring, education, management and research. This First Annual UK Sports Concussion Research Symposium hosted at the Rugby Football Union offers a great opportunity to share knowledge between researchers and UK sports that will help us develop more effective research collaborations and start to fill in some of the key gaps in our understanding of this important injury.”

The FA’s Head of Medicine, Dr Charlotte Cowie, said: “The First Annual UK Sports Concussion Research Symposium will bring together some of the UK’s leading experts to gather and share the latest scientific evidence on sports concussion. Safety in sport is paramount and The FA is committed to researching all areas of head injuries and concussion in sport, in particular around the effects of playing football. We are delighted that The FA will play a key role in co-organising the event.”

Updates will be available throughout the day by following #UKSCR16 on Twitter.

Following the event, interviews will be available from the event’s media partner Neurology Central. A white paper summarising the day’s discussions will be published in The Drake Foundation’s open access journal Concussion in early 2017.

The Drake Foundation is a not for profit organisation committed to improving evidence-based measures for the understanding of concussion injuries in sport, based on scientific research and insight. Our partnership approach brings together sporting and academic thought leaders to devise research which will ultimately improve sport safety. Our primary objective is to further the evidence base behind sporting guidelines, so that any potential risk to participants can be reduced through improved safety measures and awareness.