Profiling head accelerations using triaxial accelerometery during ‘bodies in front’ training play: a preliminary study of the sport of rugby league

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ObjectiveTo provide unique descriptive information on head accelerations, both linear and rotational, during ‘bodies in front’ training play.DesignA convenience sample were tested using a cross-sectional design. Players wore a triaxial accelerometer (XPatch, X2 Biosystems, Seattle) during two sessions of training gameplay (session duration 142±26 min). Accelerometers were affixed on the left side of the head, at a point approximate to the external occipital protuberance.SettingTesting was undertaken at an elite performance training centre.Participants20 elite, professional, rugby league players.Main outcome measuresMinimum recordable accelerations were set at 10 g (linear acceleration) and 25 rads s-2 (rotational acceleration).ResultsA total of 1256 recorded ‘hits’ were analysed, excluding evident artefacts. No player was reported to have suffered a concussion. Player ‘loading’ was 46±33 hits per session (range 7–170). Average linear (14.9±8.8 g) and rotational (532±347 rads s-2) accelerations were not significantly different between training sessions (P>0.05). Frequency of hits are summarised in the table below.ConclusionsThe majority of head accelerations occurred within lower ‘sub-concussive’ zones. This confirms existing research findings from other sports. Whilst few accelerations occurred in higher zones, there were a number of very high loading impacts observed in ‘hit up forward’ positions. Our research confirms the suitability of using portable accelerometers in determining head accelerations in full-contact, ‘armourless’, invasion games.Competing interestsNone.

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