Concussions pose a great risk to the well-being of those affected, and if a sportsman continues to play on with a concussion, the consequences could be severe.
The risk of concussion is highly prevalent in sports which are highly taxing on the body, including rugby and American football.
Due to being tough to diagnose, doctors are often given limited time when deciding whether a player can continue with the effects of a head injury.
However, the problems posed by concussions could be greatly reduced following the introduction of a new pitch-side saliva test; which is being trialled in English club rugby throughout the coming season.
The test would require just two millilitres of saliva from a player with suspected concussion, and a more accurate decision on whether a player is showing symptoms of the condition will be made available inside ten minutes.
With around 200 concussions in Premiership and Championship rugby over the course of a season, this test could prove groundbreaking when attempting to limit the impact of concussion in the sport.
The test will be led by the University of Birmingham and carried out in collaboration with the Rugby Football Union, Premiership Rugby, and the Rugby Players’ Association, with the aim of helping to guide return-to-play decisions.
If successful, it is hoped that the test could then be used in all sports, as well as proving beneficial to front-line medics in the NHS and military.
RFU chief medical officer Dr Simon Kemp said: “This is one of the holy grails in concussion management.
“We are testing a really novel and exciting hypothesis.
“There is currently no reliable or proven biomarker or objective test for the diagnosis of concussion.
“This lack of objectivity is the biggest challenge facing medical professionals in dealing with this type of injury.
“While very much an exploratory piece of research, this is a project that has the potential to make a very significant impact on the diagnosis and management of players following concussion.”
As well as in rugby, the NFL are also harbouring concerns over the long-term health of players that have suffered from concussion.
It is therefore apparent that the condition must be given more attention, and that both the diagnosis and treatment must be more accurate in order to protect the welfare of players that participate in high-contact sports.
Let's just hope that the test is successful, so that the severity of concussions can be greatly reduced in the coming years.
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