Leeds Rhinos and Wigan Warriors’ Super League fixture attended by head injury experts

Leeds Beckett University (LBU) is today (Friday 22 July) hosting the second of a two-day international conference on optimising player welfare in contact sports through mouthguard technology.

The conference is a collaboration between the Rugby Football League, Rugby Football Union, the Love of the Game campaign and LBU’s Carnegie School of Sport, and includes experts on concussion and impact sensors from Australia, Canada, South Africa, the UK and USA.

Instrumented mouthguards are now being used in sport to measure head accelerations and head impacts in sport. Mouthguard technology allows sports to monitor athlete exposure and ensure that individual welfare remains a priority. Delegates are discussing and sharing best practice on optimal methods of applying instrumented mouthguards for the benefit of sports and players.

The conference agenda features presentations and discussion groups led by from experts working with the Rugby Football League, World Rugby, Rugby Football Union, the Premier League, Boxing, the FA, English Institute of Sport, England & Wales Cricket Board and British Horse Racing.

LBU’s Professor Ben Jones, who is Strategic Lead for Performance, Science and Research at the Rugby Football League, says: “We’re really excited to host the conference and grateful to have so many experts from around the world here at Leeds Beckett University. This conference demonstrates the collaborative and scientific approach sports have been taking to ensure we can monitor head acceleration exposure of athletes objectively and ensure sports continue to prioritise player welfare.”

“The RFL’s own TaCKLE project will see professional, academy and community players wearing instrumented mouthguards for the next three years, and we are working closely with experts from other sports to ensure that players and sports benefit more broadly from these research projects.”

TaCKLE stands for tackle and contact kinematics, load and exposure. The three-year project, which began in January this year, uses mouthguard technology to determine the extent of concussion and other head injury risks in collision sport.

The University of Bath’s Professor Keith Stokes, Medical Research Lead at the Rugby Football Union, adds: “The RFU, RFL and other sports have been working closely to determine the validity of the instrumented mouthguards.

“This conference will allow researchers and clinicians the opportunity to discuss how instrumented mouthguards can be applied now and in the future.”

Love of the Game is a campaign to reduce concussion-related issues across sport. LOTG takes a solutions-based approach, developing rapid actionable technologies that prevent, diagnose and treat head injuries in sport. Scientists and the RFL will use the data, gathered from tackled players and tacklers alike, to assess the impact of collisions and how this might be managed.

Professor Mike Parker, Chief Medical Officer at Love of the Game, says: “Player welfare is paramount in sport. We’re really pleased to see so many sports working together to find new technology solutions which can help make sport safer for current and future players.

“It’s fantastic to see Leeds Beckett University, the Rugby Football League and Rugby Football Union leading this conference and so many other sports contributing to what is such an important topic.”

Delegates also attended last night’s Betfred Super League match between Leeds Rhinos and Wigan Warriors.