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Rugby Impacts Likened to Serious Trauma

University of Canterbury research has likened the impact of rugby on players to a car accident, and found ways to help medical staff manage players’ recovery and training during different phases of competition.

Measuring the impact of the game on a player’s body is difficult without drawing large amounts of blood to test, but A/Prof Steve Gieseg and PhD student Angus Lindsay developed “chemical tests to measure the level of damage occurring in rugby players using only urine and saliva”.

“Our research measured two chemicals in the urine and two in the saliva to gain a global view of how players responded to the physical stress of an individual game. The measurements tested the level of muscle damage, inflammation, immune resistance and mental stress.”

The researchers optimised and refined proven measurements of damage while treating the players’ data as if they were car accident victims.

“Our team found levels of damage occurring in Canterbury rugby players after ITM Cup games which were in the ranges expected from serious trauma. The level of damage was greater than could be predicted from GPS or video analysis. The measurements also show that some players could heal from this damage remarkably quickly.”

Gieseg says “the measurements can be used to assist coaches and medical staff to manage players’ recovery and training during different phases of competition”.