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Chiefs involved in concussion study

Exeter Chiefs are working on a project to discover what happens to the brain of a player when they are concussed.

The Aviva Premiership club's scientific investigation comes in the wake of several recent high-profile concussion cases in rugby union.

World Rugby, the game's governing body, said Wales winger George North should not have remained on the pitch during the RBS 6 Nations opener against England last month after video replays appeared to show he had briefly losing consciousness following a clash of heads with team-mate Richard Hibbard.

The Welsh Rugby Union was cleared of any wrongdoing as World Rugby accepted its explanation that neither the team medical staff nor the independent doctor had sight of the incident, but North's case served to magnify the dangers of players suffering head injuries.

Wales prop Samson Lee also missed the Scotland game the following week after failing concussion protocols and Ireland pair Sean O'Brien and Jared Payne were concussed against England last weekend.

But now data gathered during research between University of Exeter specialists and Exeter Chiefs could have a huge impact on the prevention and management of injuries following head trauma.

"Concussion is an issue in rugby, like any contact sport," said Chiefs coach Rob Baxter.

"We take it seriously at the Chiefs and we're always looking for ways in which we can look after our players.

"This is a great opportunity for us to work with bio-engineers, neuropsychologists and medics to better understand concussion and how we can help our players recover to get back in the game and, most importantly, stay healthy."

Professor Huw Williams, co-director of the Centre for Clinical Neuropsychology Research at the University of Exeter, said: "At present it is still the case that there is little evidence base for the management of Traumatic Brain Injury.

"There is a need to develop better systems for understanding and treating TBI, particularly in the acute period, straight after a knock out, before there may be irreversible changes in brain tissue."

The University of Exeter's work with the Chiefs is part of a wider project which will model how the brain reacts to trauma in car and sports incidents.

That data will be shared with colleagues in China, the United States and Scotland to determine possible safety measures and for early brain trauma management and intervention strategies.

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