Concussion app coming to club level
September 21, 2018
An app that aids in the diagnosis of concussion may be coming to New Zealand’s club rugby teams in the next five years.
New Zealand Rugby has conducted trials with the app in different regions of the country to establish whether it could be applied at a grassroots level. The app has already been in use in professional competitions like the Super Rugby competition and the Mitre 10 Cup but never in the lower grades.
The app would operate off baseline data collected on a player’s normal behaviour. If a player was suspected of a concussion, this app could send a player’s baseline data to their doctor and a test could be carried out to see if they had been concussed.
“Ideally, the long-term goal is to have an app that covers all rugby players in New Zealand,” NZ Rugby researcher Danielle Salmon said.
“Concussion is the same for a 13-year-old as it is for a 33-year-old, so we just want to make sure all players are looked after whether you’re Sonny Bill Williams or little Johnny down the road.”
Salmon said consultation on the app trials was necessary to fully understand how it could be used effectively at club level. “At the end of the day, there are risks with any sporting participation but it’s just about understanding those risks and probably at this stage we don’t have enough information to really understand what those risks are at the community level.
“I’d love to say we can do it in five years and it’s good to be optimistic, but we’ll wait and see what the feedback is because that’s the key for us, engaging with parents and clubs using it because you don’t want to roll out something that’s not 100%,” she said.
The Tawa Junior Rugby Club was one of the clubs selected for the trial and club coordinator Cameron Prestige said concussion at a junior level was still an issue. “There have been a few high-profile concussions in junior grades in the last couple of years in Wellington and I think there is some fear there from parents about their kids playing rugby.”
Prestige said as a player who has had concussions, he knew how important it was to teach children and parents how to manage concussions.
“The more we can get to the parents to help the kids now, then when they get old enough, they can make that decision for themselves. There are still premier players in heaps of clubs that are still getting pretty heavy head knocks but not wanting to come off because they’re really not educated enough about concussions,” he said.
“Whatever we can do to keep the kids as safe as possible while they’re playing because it’s a contact sport and the more we can do, the better.”