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New study examines brain health in former rugby players

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UK researchers are launching a study to investigate brain health among former professional rugby players as well as recreational players.

The research extends an existing study into former rugby players´ health which is being undertaken by researchers at the Arthritis Research UK Centre for Sport, Exercise and Osteoarthritis and the University of Oxford´s Nuffield Department of Orthopaedics, Rheumatology and Musculoskeletal Science (NDORMS).

A subset of players will be re-contacted to participate in this new neurological study, and the researchers are also keen to hear from former recreational players.

Nigel Arden, deputy director of the Arthritis Research UK Centre for Sport, Exercise and Osteoarthritis and Professor of Rheumatology, said: “The Arthritis Research UK Centre for Sport is examining player health across many sports, with a view to understanding the health benefits and deficits which may affect players in later life. We are thrilled to be joining forces in this collaboration to further examine cognition, mobility and health amongst this unique group”.

Data analysis from the Phase 1 Player Health Study is already underway and results are expected to be released in the autumn.

Discussing the plans for the new study, lead researcher and NDORMS PhD student Madi Davies said: “This is an excellent opportunity to build on what we are learning from our former players about their musculoskeletal and overall health. Our data is beginning to provide us with a clearer picture of player health long-term, and concussion is one aspect of many that need to be expanded in terms of what is currently known, and not yet known within rugby union.”

Davies added: “As we look forward to the next phase of this study, we are keen to understand not only elite but equally how recreational players may be functioning in later life. Recreational players are the majority of players, and also those who are contributing to a potential health burden here.”

Any former rugby player wishing to take part in the new study can email [email protected] for further information.