Revolutionary VR technology to detect concussions set to be trialled in Super Rugby Trans-Tasman

Tue, 18/05/2021, 04:00 am
Nathan Williamson
by Nathan Williamson
Filipo Daugunu trials new eye-tracking technology to detect concussions. Photo: Dorian Grimaud

Super Rugby Trans-Tasman is set to trial revolutionary eye-tracking technology to help better identify concussions.

World Rugby, New Zealand Rugby (NZR) and Rugby Australia (RA) have partnered with NeuroFlex to adopt an in-match trial of the technology during the 2021 Super RugbyTrans-Tasman competition.

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The world-first trial using virtual reality technology designed to help detect concussions as the sport continues to further its understanding in the area.

It will be used in conjunction with current HIA protocols and the return-to-play process across the competition.

Data collected from the NeuroFlex VR testing will then be used to compare the accuracy of concussion identification based on eye and head movements compared to the current system.

World Rugby Chief Medical Officer Dr Éanna Falvey said: “As a key element of our progressive approach to injury reduction and management, rugby continually explores and assesses technology developments that could enhance the care of players in our sport, from community rugby to elite competitions.

“We believe that oculomotor screening examination in rugby has the potential to boost the identification and management of concussions by objectively identifying potential abnormalities in oculomotor function between a player’s baseline and when removed for an HIA assessment, adding to the depth of identification methods available to the sport.

“We are excited about this work and would like to thank New Zealand Rugby and Rugby Australia for embracing it. The ambition of this partnership with NeuroFlex is to determine the technology’s objective diagnostic accuracy in a rugby environment and help inform the advancement of World Rugby’s future concussion identification and management strategies.”

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Super Rugby clubs have undergone baseline testing throughout the off-season with the technology as NZR and RA look to improve their accuracy of diagnosing concussions and head-related injuries.

Rugby AU Chief Medical Officer Warren McDonald said: “This trial is another step in our continual quest to improve the assessment and management of concussion.

"Eye tracking is a mode that has the potential to enhance the accuracy of our assessment. Rugby AU appreciates the enthusiastic support from all stakeholders in the implementation of this trial to benefit the welfare of players.”

NZR Medical Manager People, Safety and Wellbeing Karen Rasmussen added: “NZR is committed to doing all we can to improve the safety and injury management of our players and the opportunity to explore new technology that might allow us to enhance the HIA process for the benefit of current and future players was something we wanted to be part of.

"Players, coaches and team management have been hugely supportive of the trial and we’d like to thank them for working with us on what we see is an important player welfare initiative.”

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