Too many injuries



  • I was in two minds whether to write this but screw it.
     
    There have always been injuries in sport and there always will be but I don’t know of a more barbaric sport right now than super rugby. Apparently 15 great players is not sufficient to won the comp, it’s about a 31 man squad with enough depth to ride out the casualties. This has snuck up on us over the past few years to the point where now most people just accept it as normal.
     
    Players are much bigger today than they were in the past and the force of the impact at the collisions is much greater. As much of a spectacle that this is, there is nothing entertaining for me about watching some of the sport’s best players sidelined for weeks.
     
    Probably I’m an overprotective big sookie but I’m secretly relieved rather than saddened that my 10-year old son loves watching the game but has no real desire to play it and I am more nervous that the top players will make it through the season than I am happy from their performances while they remain fit. I have done my share of blue collar work in the past but even I did not go to work most days knowing there was a good chance some incident might put me out for six months and I hate seeing these young men get laid up like this.
     
    Instead of trialling stupid new rules like 6-point tries, how about trialling something that allows our best players to remain on the field. I don’t know what the answer is but for starters let’s get the younger players used to wearing head gear and if just one of our super rugby coaches had the guts to put their players’ welfare first and require it of all their players then the others would soon follow. 
     
    This is just the Highlanders and it’s a similar story everywhere: Christie out for the next few weeks and Squire doubtful. Parker now out for the season, but don’t worry Banks is about to return from injury. Smith, Osborne and Dixon no longer have sparrows circling their heads and are good to go but Thompson’s now had a head knock and is doubtful. Naholo is about to come back from 8 weeks on the sideline after breaking his leg (again) just in time to replace the now injured Jack Wilson.  Three of the top choice players or 20% of the run on team: Edmonds, Coltman and Buckman are gone for the season.
     
    Luckily most of these injuries are not life threatening but nothing for me is worth sitting around watching young guys get concussed. Can we fix the game now before a serious injury or death forces it or do we just accept this is now as the new game of mangled gladiators. Nuff said.



  • Well you still have people getting injuries playing touch football, or netball etc. Without being pithy, it is a collision sport so you're always going to have knocks and bruises. But the sport has actively changed key aspects to reduce the danger for the participants, managed engagement with reduced initial forces at the scrum, head high tackles, taking people out in the air jumping at lineouts and for kicks, neck rolls, outlawing rucking and the vast improvement on the concussion protocols. Weight classes and staged introduction to tackling etc. for young players. Quite frankly the sport has never been as safe to play.



  • Well you still have people getting injuries playing touch football, or netball etc. Without being pithy, it is a collision sport so you're always going to have knocks and bruises. But the sport has actively changed key aspects to reduce the danger for the participants, managed engagement with reduced initial forces at the scrum, head high tackles, taking people out in the air jumping at lineouts and for kicks, neck rolls, outlawing rucking and the vast improvement on the concussion protocols. Weight classes and staged introduction to tackling etc. for young players. Quite frankly the sport has never been as safe to play.

    Although I agree with this there is also a part of me that agrees with the OP regarding concussions.
     
    In a way I am glad that my son found his level of play at Prem Club on the fringe of provincial and is now happy to take a bit of a break from the game as there is no rush to keep up (or catch up) with chasing a pro dream. He had a few concussions while at school and a couple more during 4 years of club play. They just seem unavoidable nowadays even for backs. He loves the game and the camaraderie etc but could do with consolidating his study and career without risking permanent damage.
    While measures are in place to mitigate risk it is simply the speed, size and power in collisions that will eventually get you.



  • Making everyone wear headgear isn't the answer, the NFL has already proven that. Giving players headgear doesn't just make them safer, it makes them FEEL safer, so they subconsciously get even MORE physical than they would otherwise.
     
    Also, I don't really buy the idea that collisions are THAT much greater these days than a decade ago because where's your proof? Season/career ending injuries have been around for forever and in regards to concussions, we only just recently got the wake up call to pay attention to concussions a few years ago, those same players would've been playing the next week if they were playing back then. Just look at Kelleher back in the 2005 Tri-Nations when Matfield concussed the shit out of him, instead of being taken off straight away like he would these days, he went on and played for like another 20 minutes. So while it may LOOK worse, I agree with antipodean that rugby's safer now than it's ever been.
     
    That said, of course there's even more that could be done, there always will be. Some of that relies on a lot of ongoing research, like if scientists can identify what makes some people more susceptible to concussions than others, they could identify those players beforehand and make sure at least they wear headgear. Other things rely on technique and training methods. Personally, I think we might have a bit of a problem with coaches over-training players but everyone wants to win, each players body has its own limits and it's not an exact science, so it's hard to say exactly how they should fix it.



  • Didn't they establish that headgear doesn't do much in the way of protecting against concussion? Or am I thinking of something else?



  • mouthguards are better for reducing concussion



  • heard something on radiosport the other day where they are trialling some devices to be worn clipped to the head which measure impacts during a game. I reckon the next couple of years will bring up a wealth of advancements in concussion analysis, could revolutionise the game.



  • Didn't they establish that headgear doesn't do much in the way of protecting against concussion? Or am I thinking of something else?
    Headgear is basically useless in terms of concussion. It's doing nothing to reduce the impact of the brain colliding against the inside of the skull.
    It's good for preventing cuts, grazes and cauliflowers.



  • heard something on radiosport the other day where they are trialling some devices to be worn clipped to the head which measure impacts during a game. I reckon the next couple of years will bring up a wealth of advancements in concussion analysis, could revolutionise the game.

    There might be a good biomarker for brain injury that can be measured via blood testing by then. Unfortunately it may require up to 24 hours for enough to pass into the blood for reliable measurement.
     
    A couple of prospective biomarkers are evaluated here:
     
    http://archneur.jamanetwork.com/article.aspx?articleid=2506517



  • heard something on radiosport the other day where they are trialling some devices to be worn clipped to the head which measure impacts during a game. I reckon the next couple of years will bring up a wealth of advancements in concussion analysis, could revolutionise the game.

    It has already been in use.
     
    http://www.stuff.co.nz/national/health/10061693/30k-research-to-understand-concussion-injuries



  • It has already been in use.http://www.stuff.co.nz/national/health/10061693/30k-research-to-understand-concussion-injuries

    A tiny $30k pilot study is one thing, clinical validation is quite another.


  • Banned

    Just regarding kids playing now, I reckon my 10 year old plays in a much safer environment than I did. We used to pack down scrums regardless of who was playing prop. Mouthguards were optional and there was certainly no first aid tent with paramedic on stand by. Rucking was a big part of the game and if someone stood on your head, well your fault for not moving out of the way. The game, at least at kids level, is much much safer.



  • What Rancid said is especially true with weight divisions. Big change to safety



  • A tiny $30k pilot study is one thing, clinical validation is quote another.

    That blood test is great for after the fact. The idea with the gadget in the article I linked has an early detection element to it were a coach or team doc can pull a player off the field if their readings show that they should.



  • What I was saying is that it will take a lot of time and money to (clinically) validate those accelerometer systems. i.e. having them ready for widespread use rather than just being used in small pilot studies.
     
    I agree that they'd be a great device for real time detection, and I hope that their study receives the necessary resources.



  • Also, I don't really buy the idea that collisions are THAT much greater these days than a decade ago because where's your proof? Season/career ending injuries have been around for forever and in regards to concussions, we only just recently got the wake up call to pay attention to concussions a few years ago, those same players would've been playing the next week if they were playing back then. Just look at Kelleher back in the 2005 Tri-Nations when Matfield concussed the shit out of him, instead of being taken off straight away like he would these days, he went on and played for like another 20 minutes. So while it may LOOK worse, I agree with antipodean that rugby's safer now than it's ever been.

    Not a decade ago, but go back to the late-70s when I was playing and the commentators used to carry on about the enormous thighs and power of Bryan Williams. Now he's the size of a moderate halfback.
     
    The mighty and feared Pinetree - a 102kg lock - now a lightweight openside flanker. Pinetree was a bit revolutionary in that he and Stan had rigged up a sort of rudimentary gym in their milking shed and did some basic weight training.
     
    These days everyone is bigger, stronger and faster. Sure the protocols around protecting the players are much more stringent, but I'm doubtful that it's a safer game to play.
     
    In the old days you'd have two 80kg midfielders colliding. Now you've got  two 105kg midfielders colliding - and guys who've been spending half the week in the gym.
     
    Read those books of TP McLean about the old tours - a few people used to get injured and occasionally even invalided out of the 30 match overseas tours, but it's nothing like what's described in the OP.



  • Just regarding kids playing now, I reckon my 10 year old plays in a much safer environment than I did. We used to pack down scrums regardless of who was playing prop. Mouthguards were optional and there was certainly no first aid tent with paramedic on stand by. Rucking was a big part of the game and if someone stood on your head, well your fault for not moving out of the way. The game, at least at kids level, is much much safer.

    me and a couple of other dads were discussing this at our boys training tonight, how it was one thing having rucking, but more often it was just a chance to climb all over someone in the ruck back when kids were learning to ruck and be tough in front of thier mates.



  • Headgear is basically useless in terms of concussion. It's doing nothing to reduce the impact of the brain colliding against the inside of the skull.
    It's good for preventing cuts, grazes and cauliflowers.

    Of course it is. Headgear means lower deceleration: skull starts slowing down from when the foam part initially hits something immovable, and is spread out over longer distance as the foam deforms on impact. So change in velocity happens over a longer time. 
     
    Lower deceleration of the skull means lower deceleration of the fluid and brain inside, which means the brain hits the skull with less force, or maybe not at all.
    Think of a car (skull) hitting a wall (opposition 2nd 5's knee) with no crumple zone - the person (brain) inside turns to mush. Same car with a well-engineered crumple zone (headgear); impact between person and front of car is less.



  • I guess that's true at an absolute level TeWaio but is it actually effective enough to make a difference? I've no idea BTW.
     
    One of the things with injuries these days is that, anecdotally anyway, we seem to see a lot more muscular and ligament type injuries. I heard some medico a while back postulating that this is due to the greatly increased weight and muscularity of the players but that this does not translate into significantly stronger joints and ligaments. Sort of, if you've got a guy that is genetically pre-disposed to be 100kg and he bulks up to 120kg, then he's running around with 20% more weight than his joints are genetically designed to carry. Sure, you can build up the muscle around your joints but the actual mechanism itself is not going to be improved. Again I've no idea of the validity of this but it seems logical.



  • Yeah, finding out the magnitude of difference is what the accelerometer data will show I guess.
    The above comment about head protection making people gung-ho to the point of a net effect of greater danger is a valid one. I read somewhere that ski resorts that made helmets compulsory saw injury rates increase to a statistically significant level after the fact. 
     
    You point about more ligament/joint injuries due to higher mass is a good one. In basic physical terms, mass scales with length cubed, while area (i.e. what supports the mass / withstands the forces) scales with length squared. It's the same reason why people over 7.5 feet tall are basically disabled, and why elephants can't jump. You can increase your mass pushing tin, but you can't increase the cross sectional area of your bones/ligaments/joints (just strengthen them, slightly - but not to the same extent as your muscles).


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