This is the first time hi-tech mouthguard technology has been made available to junior Rugby players in Australia to monitor head impacts, with the aim of enhancing grassroots concussion safety protocols.
Concussion is a growing concern at professional rugby level with one concussion being recorded every 1.6 games according to recent reports.
The HitIQ mouthguards, currently used by professional AFL, Rugby and NRL players, is embedded with force measuring sensors that record and interpret head impacts and the accumulation of force from hits sustained during a game.
This Junior Rugby Pilot involves up to 100 players from the Wests Bulldogs in Toowong, Queensland, being fitted for the mouthguards at Bupa Dental Brisbane and Toowong dental practices. In the event that a junior player sustains a head impact above a pre-determined threshold during a game or training, the parents of the player receive a text message with a link to a head injury symptomology assessment. If the player fails the assessment, they will be advised to follow club concussion protocols and seek medical treatment.
At the conclusion of the trial later this calendar year, Bupa Dental will consider extending the offering more widely, under commercial terms.
“This is a landmark trial that bridges the gap between dental care and general healthcare and safety for junior athletes,” Bupa’s managing director of Health Services Dr Dwayne Crombie said.
“While the importance of an expertly fitted mouthguard for young players is widely acknowledged, we know very little about the effects of game-day collisions on their developing brains with most concussion-related research being undertaken on elite level adult players.
“This has the potential to be a truly transformational offering and we are proud to be the first dental practice to offer HitIQ’s technology to Australian children.”