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Rugby brain injury study with frightening statistics

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Duty281
Recwatcher16
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Post by Recwatcher16 Wed 05 Oct 2022, 9:29 pm

So here it is, the existential risk to the sport of rugby. This is a serious scientific study from experts in the field of MND.

https://www.scotsman.com/health/rugby-brain-injuries-study-sparks-call-to-cut-games-and-end-full-contact-training-sessions-3867094

Professional rugby players 15 times more likely to suffer from MND is a frightening statistic. Short term options of effectively banning contact in training and a reduction in matches, doesn't feel like much of a solution.

If you have to reduce games with the corresponding financial implication it seems very difficult and you would have to protect the various leagues, which means cutting Champions cup matches, which is a real money spinner for some teams.

It seems unlikely Unions would reduce the test calendar, so it would be the club games that changes. Reducing fixtures and income means smaller squads and perhaps fewer substitutes. There seems to be a number of implications, the only factor that seems definite is that there will have to be changes.

Who would let their child take up the sport with those odds?

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Post by Duty281 Wed 05 Oct 2022, 10:50 pm

Rugby needs to go back to the amateur days and abandon professionalism, otherwise the sport will collapse due to the combined factors of scientific studies showing the risk of these horrific injuries and financial distress.

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Post by No 7&1/2 Thu 06 Oct 2022, 8:18 am

In the hope that abandoning professionalism makes the brain stronger, or that there will be less bad press if there is less money?

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Post by Duty281 Thu 06 Oct 2022, 11:16 am

Abandoning professionalism will mean fewer games and, perhaps more importantly, fewer training sessions.

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Post by No 7&1/2 Thu 06 Oct 2022, 12:44 pm

Less medical staff and monitoring too.

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Post by thebandwagonsociety Thu 06 Oct 2022, 1:46 pm

It's a study that in truth calls for the banning of the sport if the study is corroborated and validate through further research.

Otherwise any fix is just moving around the chairs on the titanic.

Limit contact in training? So what, you'll only then be 12 times more likely.
How many hard contact games did the older players in the study actually play, how does that compare to the number of games player play today? If you got games out of the calendar that could what put you at only 6 times more likely. How would that be acceptable? If the report said 6 times more likely to start off with, it still wouldn't be enough.

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Post by No 7&1/2 Thu 06 Oct 2022, 2:53 pm

Suppose in a way is the visibility of understanding of the players involved to the risks also. Up until this point or fairly recently you would often hear players say that they expected to reach 50/60 and live in pain. It was expected and understood part of the risk in playing. What wasn't clearly understood was that they were risking knowing who their partner was, their friends etc. It's becoming much clearer, so do changes need to be made to make the game safer; yes. Will it be 100 per cent safe or even close to other sports;no. But much like having a job as a deep sea fisherman is more dangerous than office worker, it's personal informed choice that to me comes into as well.

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Post by doctor_grey Thu 06 Oct 2022, 4:41 pm

I read most of the study and I find it more of a "Conclusion in search of supporting data" than a detailed study.  Only 5/400 people in the study had MND whiich is not statistically significant (of course, I always want the number to be zero, but this is about establishing causality, not eliminating MND).  The first baseline group, the general population had none (1100+ people).  The second group were Rugby players mostly from the amateur era.  

Their study appears to indicate head trauma is more frequent now than in the pre-2000 era.  This is bonkers.  Back then any head trauma was frowned upon, ignored, and certainly almost never reported.  
They indicate their study concludes all contact should be removed from training.  Again, this  makes no sense.  If people don't train for proper contact, contact will become increasingly dangerous.  
The only conclusion I agree with is that we play too many games.  I have been talking about that forever.  

And I am concerned about the narrow focus of studies like this as they can lead to the impression Rugby (or whatever sport is being studied at the moment) is horrifically dangerous and the sport does not take head trauma seriously.

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Post by Poorfour Thu 06 Oct 2022, 8:45 pm

Sadly there’s a particular group of public health academics who appear to have taken against rugby and are not applying an appropriate amount of methodological rigour or impartiality when assessing rugby injuries.
There are genuine causes for concern, and the data on injuries is in some cases very poor, and various unions have been slow or even obstructive in responding to these challenges.
But the academics arguing against rugby seem to have decided that the appropriate response is to torture the data and be hyperbolically hostile. I read Allyson Pollock’s Tackling Rugby carefully a few years back, and while there was cause for concern she’d also done things like combine amateur and professional era data, and dismissed protocols to reduce risk rather than consider them properly.
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Post by doctor_grey Fri 07 Oct 2022, 9:31 pm

I agree and I know a couple of the people who dislike Rugby in particular and I still don't get it.  Rugby is a relatively smaller sport yet attracts outsized attention - and from more recent studies soccer as well as many other sports and activities have higher incidence of head trauma than Rugby.  

I think the outsized attention makes it harder to do what we can within Rugby to make it safer.  And I think we have made great strides - it's just we can't use injury data from 20 years ago as any sort of baseline or reference.  Though we are not running blind, we have to be comfortable there is no good data at the moment to use as a reference so improvements cannot be measured accurately.  But anyone who has played and watched Rugby for a long time, we all know things have improved, and significantly so.

But, as you know, I still think the single best way to educe injuries in Rugby is to play less games.

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