A new study has found that half of all elite rugby players showed an unexpected change in brain volume because of impacts suffered to the head.
According to a report in Science Daily, the study was funded by the Drake Foundation, which is now calling for changes in rugby protocols in an effort to look out for players’ long-term wellbeing.
The study also said around 23% of the players had abnormalities in brain structure in the white matter and blood vessels, showing the drastic effect that high-impact sports can have in terms of long-term injuries.
The Study’s Recommendations
Head injuries, concussions, and their potential long-term impact on the health of athletes have been in the spotlight in rugby since former players filed a class action lawsuit against the governing bodies including World Rugby, alleging a failure to minimize the risks.
Similar lawsuits have been filed in the United States against the NFL. Former hockey players also filed a similar lawsuit against the NHL. The sport of football has garnered the most attention worldwide for the impact contact sports have on players’ brain health.
Since rugby became a professional sport in the 1990s, experts say that lot has changed. Players are now bigger and more powerful. A number of former players have been diagnosed with permanent brain damage, early-onset dementia, or symptoms and signs of chronic traumatic encephalopathy.
Understanding the Dangers of CTE
According to the Boston University CTE Center, chronic traumatic encephalopathy is a degenerative brain disease found in athletes, military veterans, and others with a history of repetitive head trauma. In CTE, a protein called tau malfunctions, which causes other proteins to malfunction in turn. This sets off a chain reaction when the tau protein spreads throughout the brain, killing off brain cells.
CTE has been seen in people as young as 17, but symptoms do not begin appearing until years after the onset of head impacts. Symptoms include impulse control issues, aggression, mood swings, depression, paranoia, short-term memory loss, confusion, impaired judgment, and dementia.
As traumatic brain injury lawyers, we believe that sports organizations and sports leagues in colleges and schools should take every possible step to ensure that athletes are well protected. If you or a loved one has suffered a concussion, a traumatic brain injury, or brain damage as a result of someone else’s negligence or wrongdoing, please contact an experienced California brain injury attorney to obtain more information about pursuing your legal rights.