Measurement of Head Impacts in a Senior Amateur Rugby League Team with an Instrumented Patch: Exploratory Analysis
King, D; Hume, P; Gissane, C; Clark, T
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Accelerometer devices can quantify the magnitude of head impacts during sport to ascertain potential for brain injury. There are no published head impact data for rugby league. The objective of this study was to quantify head impacts for amateur senior rugby league players to ascertain potential for brain injury. Data on head impact magnitude, frequency and distribution were collected with instrumented behind-the-ear XPatches (accelerometers) worn by 42premier senior amateur rugby league players participating in 2014 and 2015 domestic seasons of matches. During the study there were20, 837 impacts >10g recorded. The mean number of impacts per player over the season was 672±237resulting in 52 ±79 impacts to the head per player, per match. Players recorded a median [IQR] linear (14 [10 to 23] g), and rotational (3,181 [1830 to 5,612] rad/s2) accelerations over the study. Over the study there were 103 impacts (0.5%) for linear acceleration, and 4,505 impacts (22%) for rotational acceleration, above previously published linear and rotational injury tolerance thresholds. The median peak linear acceleration of 14gwaslower, while the median rotational acceleration of 3,181 rad/s2was higher than the medians reported in American high school football, collegiate football and youth ice hockey. The potential for brain injury in rugby league players as indicated by head impact acceleration is likely similar to American football and rugby union. Given world-wide growth of rugby codes, sports clinicians need to be aware of the potential for head injury and likely concussion prevention and management options. Key points: • Linear acceleration characteristics for head impacts per player per game for rugby league were similar to those reported for American high school football, collegiate football and youth ice hockey. • Rotational acceleration characteristics for head impacts per player per game for rugby league were higher than those reported for American high school football, collegiate football and youth ice hockey. • The majority of linear and rotational acceleration impacts recorded in senior amateur rugby league fell into the mild category of impact severity.