Padded headgear doesn't reduce the rate of concussion or head injury for rugby union players, a major new Australian study has found.
It concluded that although individual players may choose to wear the padded headgear, its routine use cannot be recommended to reduce the chances of sustaining concussion while playing or training.
The study was led by Dr Andrew McIntosh, a biomechanics expert in the UNSW School of Risk and Safety Sciences, working with colleagues at the University of Melbourne, the University of Ballarat, the University of Otago and Monash University. The research was funded by the International Rugby Board (IRB) with support from the Australian Rugby Union.
"Skull fractures and intracranial bleeding are rare in Rugby injuries, but concussion is relatively common," says Dr McIntosh. "There's some evidence that the standard headgear may prevent some minor head wounds but our study found that it was of no benefit in preventing concussion."
The findings, published in the journal Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, detail how a team of researchers monitored the on-field performance of more than 4,000 players aged between 12 and 20.
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