"Game-Changing" Concussion Test Is 94% Accurate, Following Rugby Union Trials

Edward Cooper
·2-min read
Photo credit: Sportsfile - Getty Images
Photo credit: Sportsfile - Getty Images

From Men's Health

A rollout of pitchside saliva tests has come a step closer after trials of the "game-changing" diagnosis tool were found to be 94 per cent successful among male elite rugby union players.

Assessing 156 Premiership and Championship rugby players who had head injury assessments (HIA) in the 2017-18 and 2018-19 seasons, researchers took samples of microscopic DNA markers in saliva to make a test that predicted HIA results with 94 per cent success rate.

The tests presented an "opportunity to bang the drum for more of this research to be done in groups not traditionally included," said the study's chief investigator, Professor Antonio Belli. "When I see on TV a player is taken off for the medical saliva test, it will be a major achievement." Despite this success, the saliva test can't be used on women due to data shortages.

Speaking to BBC Sport, Dr Simon Kemp, the Rugby Football Union (RFU)'s medical director said that the findings were incredibly exciting" and that the potential for the new saliva test was "far bigger than rugby".

"It sits across all head injuries, but within a rugby setting we know you can get a change in biomarkers very quickly so you could have a test in a medical room at a game and certainly that could be fed back the next day in the elite game."

"Blood is much more difficult to work with and doesn't really work for a pitchside test or for children," said Professor Belli. "Now you have something that is non-invasive, quite easy to get, objective and accurate at the same time."

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