HOTspot News - Project to study Rugby Spinal Cord Injuries

The UCT/MRC Research Unit for Exercise Science and Sports Medicine is joining the Chris Burger/Petro Jackson Players’ Fund in a research project that aims to establish an accurate database of rugby-related spinal cord injuries in South Africa.

(Picture: Nicola Wilson) A Rugby Safety Indaba held in Cape Town recently found that existing data on serious spinal cord injuries in the game was incomplete due to the lack of a proper injury-reporting system. Delegates decided to conduct further research to ensure the accuracy and integrity of the data.

The research is being overseen by Professor Tim Noakes and will last for a period of three months. “It appears that no country has really resolved the problem of spinal cord injuries in rugby,” Prof. Noakes says. “South Africa is making a concerted effort to significantly reduce the number and even have a target of zero spinal cord injuries.”

Research Assistant, Nicola Wilson, has issued an urgent appeal for persons who have suffered spinal cord injury whilst playing rugby to contact her.

“Our experience is that a large group of “near miss” injuries exist,” Wilson says. “This refers to players who have sustained a spinal injury that required admission to an emergency unit or hospital for either medical or surgical treatment, but which does not result in paralysis.

(Picture: Prof. Tim Noakes) Everyone who is involved in rugby – schools, clubs, Provinces, coaches, referees, health facilities and medical personnel should participate in this much-needed research project. Wilson requires assistance in gathering information and contacting players with past or pre-existing spinal injuries sustained as a result of rugby. Catastrophically injured rugby players who are currently being assisted by the Chris Burger/Petro Jackson Players’ Fund will also participate in the study.

“An accurate spinal cord injury database is imperative if we are to successfully prevent or reduce the high incidence of catastrophic injuries in our rugby,” said Fund GM, Gail Ross. “We only have part of the picture and are unable to effectively evaluate injuries, examine their causes and track trends that might exist. We appeal to all rugby players who have suffered serious spinal cord injuries to contact us and assist in the gathering of this important data,” Ross said.

Respondents will be required to complete a detailed injury questionnaire relating to the nature and cause of their injuries, treatment received and their subsequent circumstances.

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