A video analysis of head injuries satisfying the criteria for a head injury assessment in professional Rugby Union: a prospective cohort study

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Abstract

Objectives

Concussion is the most common match injury in professional Rugby Union, accounting for 25% of match injuries. The primary prevention of head injuries requires that the injury mechanism be known so that interventions can be targeted to specifically overall incidence by focusing on characteristics with the greatest propensity to cause a head injury.

Methods

611 head injury assessment (HIA) events in professional Rugby Union over a 3-year period were analysed, with specific reference to match events, position, time and nature of head contact.

Results

464 (76%) of HIA events occur during tackles, with the tackler experiencing a significantly greater propensity for an HIA than the ball carrier (1.40 HIAs/1000 tackles for the tackler vs 0.54 HIAs/1000 tackles for the ball carrier, incidence rate ratio (IRR) 2.59). Propensity was significantly greater for backline players than forwards (IRR 1.54, 95% CI 1.28 to 1.84), but did not increase over the course of the match. Head to head contact accounted for the most tackler HIAs, with the greatest propensity.

Conclusions

By virtue of its high propensity and frequency, the tackle should be the focus for interventions that may include law change and technique education. A specific investigation of the characteristics of the tackle is warranted to refine the approach to preventative strategies.

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