Danger of head injuries increases as players become more powerful

Medical view

The brain is like a blancmange inside a wooden box. It has the consistency of set custard and is secured within a pool of fluid in the skull by veins no more substantial than those on the back of your hand. The arrangement works well until the box is hit. Then the brain gets scrambled.

Until recently concern about cumulative brain injury caused by blows to the head was focused on boxers, in whom repeated episodes of concussion are common over a long career. Now it is becoming clear that chronic traumatic encephalopathy – a degenerative disease of the brain – is affecting participants in other contact sports in which the blancmange is rattled, even if not concussed – including American football, ice hockey and wrestling.

Could the danger extend to rugby – league or union? Rugby players wear less padding than their US counterparts but it is unclear whether that makes them more vulnerable or less – by reducing the ferocity of the impacts. Unquestionably the dangers of rugby have risen as the size and weight of players has grown, reflected in the soaring injury rate.

In Australia the former rugby league player Shaun Valentine has become the first to pledge his brain to research after his death, following a series of seizures he has experienced since retiring. Brain damage in rugby is an issue that can no longer be ignored.

Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
ebooks
ebookA delicious collection of 50 meaty main courses
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

    £18000 - £23000 per annum + Uncapped Commission: SThree: As a Trainee Recruitm...

    Recruitment Genius: New Business Sales Executive - Opportunities Across The UK

    £15000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Join a fast growing, UK based I...

    Recruitment Genius: Project Manager

    £35000 - £40000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Project Manager is required t...

    Recruitment Genius: Web Developer - PHP - Manchester City Centre

    Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This web design company are searching for outs...

    Day In a Page

    Sepp Blatter resignation: The beginning of Fifa's long road to reform?

    Does Blatter's departure mean Fifa will automatically clean up its act?

    Don't bet on it, says Tom Peck
    Charles Kennedy: The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

    The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

    Charles Kennedy was consistently a man of the centre-left, dedicated to social justice, but was also a champion of liberty and an opponent of the nanny-state, says Baroness Williams
    Syria civil war: The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of this endless conflict

    The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of Syria's endless civil war

    Sahar Qanbar lost her mother and brother as civilians and government soldiers fought side by side after being surrounded by brutal Islamist fighters. Robert Fisk visited her
    The future of songwriting: How streaming is changing everything we know about making music

    The future of songwriting

    How streaming is changing everything we know about making music
    William Shemin and Henry Johnson: Jewish and black soldiers receive World War I Medal of Honor amid claims of discrimination

    Recognition at long last

    Jewish and black soldiers who fought in WWI finally receive medals after claims of discrimination
    Beating obesity: The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters

    Beating obesity

    The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters
    9 best women's festival waterproofs

    Ready for rain: 9 best women's festival waterproofs

    These are the macs to keep your denim dry and your hair frizz-free(ish)
    Cycling World Hour Record: Nervous Sir Bradley Wiggins ready for pain as he prepares to go distance

    Wiggins worried

    Nervous Sir Bradley ready for pain as he prepares to attempt cycling's World Hour Record
    Liverpool close in on Milner signing

    Liverpool close in on Milner signing

    Reds baulk at Christian Benteke £32.5m release clause
    On your feet! Spending at least two hours a day standing reduces the risk of heart attacks, cancer and diabetes, according to new research

    On your feet!

    Spending half the day standing 'reduces risk of heart attacks and cancer'
    With scores of surgeries closing, what hope is there for the David Cameron's promise of 5,000 more GPs and a 24/7 NHS?

    The big NHS question

    Why are there so few new GPs when so many want to study medicine?
    Big knickers are back: Thongs ain't what they used to be

    Thongs ain't what they used to be

    Big knickers are back
    Thurston Moore interview

    Thurston Moore interview

    On living in London, Sonic Youth and musical memoirs
    In full bloom

    In full bloom

    Floral print womenswear
    From leading man to Elephant Man, Bradley Cooper is terrific

    From leading man to Elephant Man

    Bradley Cooper is terrific