Petrie, Freja

Petrie,  Freja
Start date:
October 2020
Research Topic:
mTBI in Womens Rugby Union
Research pathway:
Research Supervisor:
Dr Elisabeth Williams
Supervising school:
Primary funding source:
ESRC Studentship

The aim of this project is to investigate the mechanisms of concussive injury and the efficacy of mitigating interventions in women’s rugby.

The high incidence of concussion within rugby has sparked significant research effort and the development of concussion management protocols, however the data that informs these developments comes almost exclusively from a male sample. The anatomical (sexual dimorphism in neuronal and cervical spine anatomy), physical (body size) and social differences (differing opportunities to join the sport and public perception) mean that the newly developed protocols have limited generalisability to women. Failure to include women in sample populations has created a large data gender gap that places women at greater risk of avoidable harm.

This research will use instrumented mouthguards and video analysis of women’s rugby matches to measure head impacts during game play. These data will be used to identify injury mechanisms and assess the efficacy of mitigating strategies such as neck strength training.

To add context to this biomechanical data we have opened a global female rugby survey. This survey will collect information about player demographics, concussion experience and performance in relation to the menstrual cycle. By understanding the barriers to effective concussion management and player experiences, more targeted interventions can be developed to protect players from avoidable injury.