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A new study in brain health is set to begin this summer extending research into former rugby players' health being undertaken at the University of Oxford.

Rugby player on the ground
Rugby player on the ground

University researchers within the Nuffield Department of Orthopaedics, Rheumatology and Musculoskeletal Science (NDORMS) have been recruiting former rugby players since early 2015, including former English International players and former Oxbridge Blues.

The player health study is being undertaken within the Arthritis Research UK Centre for Sport, Exercise and Osteoarthritis, and a subset of players will be re-contacted to participate in this new neurological study.

Lead researcher and NDORMS PhD student Madi Davies commented: "This is an excellent opportunity to build on what we are learning from our former players about their musculoskeletal and overall health. Our data is beginning to provide us with a clearer picture of player health long-term, and concussion is one aspect of many that need to be expanded in terms of what is currently known, and not yet known within rugby union."

Data analysis from this Phase 1 Player Health Study is underway and results are expected to be released later this autumn.

Arthritis Research UK Centre for Sport, Exercise and Osteoarthritis Deputy Director and Professor of Rheumatology, Nigel Arden added: "The Arthritis Research UK Centre for Sport is examining player health across many sports, with a view to understanding the health benefits and deficits which may affect players in later life. We are thrilled to be joining forces in this collaboration to further examine cognition, mobility and health amongst this unique group".

In addition to having recruited former England players, researchers are also keen to hear from former recreational players. Madi Davies says: "As we look forward to the next phase of this study, we are keen to understand not only elite but equally how recreational players may be functioning in later life. Recreational players are the majority of players, and also those who are contributing to a potential health burden here."

Any former rugby player wishing to take part in this study can email therugbystudy@ndorms.ox.ac.uk for further information.

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