A new type of mouthguard could protect Illinois athletes who play contact sports against serious brain injuries. The mouthguards, which contain sensors that measure the severity of head impacts, have been approved for use by rugby’s governing body. World Rugby may be one of the first sports governing bodies to approve the use of the mouthguards because it is being sued along with several other rugby authorities for not doing enough to protect players from violent head trauma and brain injuries.
The sensors in the new mouthguards will be connected to independent doctors on the sidelines, and they will send alerts when a rugby player’s head accelerates at speeds that could cause serious injury. When doctors receive an alert form one of the mouthguards, they will summon the player involved to the sidelines to undergo a Head Injury Assessment. A HIA is a series of tests that determine whether or not a player suffered a concussion. These injuries occur when the brain strikes the inside of the skull due to a rapid back and forth head movement. This causes chemical changes inside the brain and can damage brain cells.
Head injury assessments
World Rugby announced on Oct. 9 that female players will be issued with the new mouthguards during the upcoming WXV competition, which is scheduled to take place between Oct. 13 and Nov. 4. The mouthguards will become part of rugby’s HIA protocols in January 2024. Players will be required to use the mouthguards during training sessions as well as games. World Rugby approved the mouthguards after researchers noticed that hockey players who used them suffered 20% fewer brain injuries. Concussions are a type of traumatic brain injuries, and players who suffer them should not return to the field for at least three weeks.
Preventing brain injuries
Contact sports like football, rugby and boxing are popular all around the world, but the athletes who play them often pay a high price. The mouthguards approved by World Rugby could detect brain injuries that can shorten the lives of athletes who play a violent sport and do not wear helmets.