A saliva test to detect concussion in sports players has been unveiled by the University of Birmingham in conjunction with England’s Rugby Football Union. The scientific breakthrough, which accurately identifies traumatic brain injury, is being hailed as a game-changer, as it delivers fitness-to-play results within 24 to 36 hours. Currently, a player must undergo a six-day process to be deemed fit to resume playing after failing an initial head injury assessment.
While such a breakthrough is welcome, the concern is that it may tend to mask the dangers associated with head injuries in sport. A study in the UK in October 2019 revealed that former professional soccer players were three and a half times more likely to suffer from dementia and other serious neurological diseases than those in the general population. The results of the study by the University of Glasgow have since been confirmed by other investigations.
Whether it is soccer, rugby, or GAA, sports organisations need to raise awareness of the life-changing potential of head injuries and do everything they can to minimise risk.
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