Existing headgear and mouth guards have limited or no benefit in reducing concussions in rugby players, according to research published in the journal Neurosurgery.
However, educational injury prevention programmes that promote proper playing techniques and enforcement of the rules do result in a significant reduction in concussions and head, neck and spinal injuries, according to researcher Dr Michael Cusimano of St. Michael’s Hospital, Toronto.
He still recommends rugby players wear mouth guards and protective headgear because of the strong evidence they reduce mouth and face injuries and scalp lacerations and abrasions.
the report states that equipment companies should be encouraged to develop more sophisticated headgear that could reduce injury risk. Current rugby headgear is soft-shelled, has thin padding and is primarily designed to protect the ears and the back of the head.
“A large number of players, coaches and referees believe that equipment such as mouth guards and headgears may prevent brain injuries in rugby,” Dr. Cusimano said.
“Our study was the first to summarize what did and what did not work. Equipment such as headgear and mouth guards are ineffective at preventing neurological injuries, but other strategies, such as education and rule changes, have been shown to be effective.”
He went on “These sorts of strategies should be made available to all rugby players so that these athletes can spend more time playing on the field than recovering off it.”
Source: Medical News Today