A study of former rugby players brains has found that those who played for longer were more likely to suffer from a degenerative brain disease.
31 brains, 8 from professional players and 23 from amateurs, were donated and analysed as part of the study led by the University of Glasgow with 21 showing evidence of conditions linked to repeated head injuries and concussions. 68 percent of the brains showed signs of chronic traumatic encephalopathy CTE.
The study calculated that with each additional year of play there was a 14% increase in the risk of developing CTE with lead author Professor Willie Stewart saying “It's the shaking and twisting and rotating of the head thousands of times over decades that's likely to cause deep damage in the brain.” Stewart said that steps need to be taken to reduce the number of head impacts within both games and training but believes that currently enough is not being done.
Scottish Rugby welcomes the study saying it “supports the important conversations currently underway around the volume of player activity, with the aim of reducing the number of head contacts in our game.”
More than 300 former football, rugby league and rugby union players in the UK are taking legal action over brain injuries they claim they suffered during their careers. The NFL has paid out significant amounts of the last few years to former players and their families who had all suffered degenerative brain diseases which were caused by repeated blows to the head throughout their careers.