Lighter, Taller Rugby Players More at Risk for Concussion
While there were inter-and intraseasonal variations in concussion rates, researchers found that lighter, taller rugby players were at greater risk.
They also found that the position half-back came with a greater risk.
“Concussion are a source of major concern in rugby, and a limited number of studies have attempted to identify risk factors for these injuries, wrote the researchers of “Incidence and Risk Factors in Concussion Events: A 5-Season Study in the French Top 14 Rugby Union Championship,” published online on April 16, 2021 in The American Journal of Sports Medicine.
They sought to determine the incidence of match concussion and associated risk factors in elite rugby union players. Those risk factors include individual workload, anthropometric variables, playing position, and season phase.
The researchers collected data on all concussion and explanatory variables over 5 consecutive seasons of matches. The study included 1,334 professional players participating in the French Top 14 Championship.
Overall, the mean match concussion incidence equated to 10.4 concussions for 1,000 hours of game exposure (95% CI, 9.3-11.5). Concussion incidence peaked in the 2016-2017 season (13.7; 95% CI, 11.0-16.5).
The researchers also observed that the playoffs posed a greater concussion risk compared with the first phase of the season (incidence rate ratio, 3.96; 95% CI, 2.10-7.35).
When it came to positions, half-backs had the highest rate of concussion events (incidence, 16.1; 95% CI, 11.8-20.3).
Regardless of position, however, players with greater height and lower body mass reported a higher risk of concussions (p = .02).
The researchers also found that players who played more during the season had a lower risk of concussion.
They wrote, “Inter-and intraseasonal variations in concussion rates were observed. Within positional groups, lighter and taller players were more at risk, with the highest incidence generally observed in half-backs. Workload was measured by the number of matches played before a concussion event, and it appeared to have a protective rather than deleterious effect on concussion risk.”