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J Neurosurg Pediatr. 2016 Jul;18(1):65-72. doi: 10.3171/2015.12.PEDS15605. Epub 2016 Mar 4.

Similar head impact acceleration measured using instrumented ear patches in a junior rugby union team during matches in comparison with other sports.

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Sports Performance Research Institute New Zealand, School of Sport and Recreation, Faculty of Health and Environmental Sciences, Auckland University of Technology, Auckland, New Zealand;
School of Sport, Health and Applied Science, St Mary's University, Twickenham, Middlesex, United Kingdom and.
Australian College of Physical Education, Faculty of Sport Performance, Sydney Olympic Park, New South Wales, Australia.


OBJECTIVE Direct impact with the head and the inertial loading of the head have been postulated as major mechanisms of head-related injuries, such as concussion. METHODS This descriptive observational study was conducted to quantify the head impact acceleration characteristics in under-9-year-old junior rugby union players in New Zealand. The impact magnitude, frequency, and location were collected with a wireless head impact sensor that was worn by 14 junior rugby players who participated in 4 matches. RESULTS A total of 721 impacts > 10g were recorded. The median (interquartile range [IQR]) number of impacts per player was 46 (IQR 37-58), resulting in 10 (IQR 4-18) impacts to the head per player per match. The median impact magnitudes recorded were 15g (IQR 12g-21g) for linear acceleration and 2296 rad/sec(2) (IQR 1352-4152 rad/sec(2)) for rotational acceleration. CONCLUSIONS There were 121 impacts (16.8%) above the rotational injury risk limit and 1 (0.1%) impact above the linear injury risk limit. The acceleration magnitude and number of head impacts in junior rugby union players were higher than those previously reported in similar age-group sports participants. The median linear acceleration for the under-9-year-old rugby players were similar to 7- to 8-year-old American football players, but lower than 9- to 12-year-old youth American football players. The median rotational accelerations measured were higher than the median and 95th percentiles in youth, high school, and collegiate American football players.


HITS = Head Impact Telemetry System; IQR = interquartile range; K-D = King-Devick; PLA = peak linear acceleration; PRA = peak rotational acceleration; impact; injury; linear; rotational; rugby union; trauma; wireless head impact sensor

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