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Rugby concussion study shows mild effects

Press Association logoPress Association 7/10/2016 Hilary Duncanson

Retired rugby players taking part in a study on the long-term effects of concussion were found to display only "some mild memory effects," researchers have found.

Fifty-two former Scotland rugby stars were recruited for the study at the University of Glasgow, which sought to gather more evidence about the health and wellbeing consequences later in life for athletes who sustained multiple concussions during their playing career.

Concussions suffered in sport have been linked to neurodegenerative disease and chronic traumatic encephalopathy, a progressive degenerative disease of the brain.

The 52 men, who had sustained an average of 14 concussions each, were analysed alongside 29 control volunteers.

Researchers "found that they only displayed some mild memory effects" in contrast to the volunteers.

They also reported no significant effects on daily life overall.

"Cognitive test results in the retired rugby players and the controls found few differences; the retired players performed less well on a test of verbal learning and on another test of fine co-ordination of the dominant hand, but these effects were mild," the university said.

Furthermore, there were no "significant associations" between the number of concussions and the participants' performances on cognitive tests.

Tom McMillan, professor of clinical neuropsychology from the Institute of Health and Wellbeing at the university, said: "Despite a high number of repeat concussions in the retired rugby players, effects on mental health, social or work function were not evident some 20 years after they had stopped playing.

"Overall, there is not a suggestion of widespread decline in daily function in ex-rugby internationalists who had a high number of repeat concussions.

"Although some differences in memory were found, these were mild overall and their cause uncertain."

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