World Rugby have approved an optional period of up to three minutes to be added to the Head Injury Assessment (HIA) process for the remainder of this season in the Premiership and Championship.
In operation from this week’s round of matches, the additional time will be available for the collection of in-game saliva samples. This means the HIA period can run from a minimum of 10 minutes to a maximum of 13 minutes.
The samples are being collected for the major study led by the University of Birmingham as part of its work to develop an objective pitch-side test to diagnose concussion.
During a match, a player who undergoes an HIA1 assessment provides a 2ml saliva sample while they are off the field. Players also provide follow-up saliva and urine samples as they go through subsequent steps of the HIA protocol and, if they are diagnosed with concussion, during the return to play protocol.
These post-injury samples are compared to baseline measures, plus those from players from the same game who did not suffer any injury and those who had other injuries.
The ground breaking concussion study led by the University of Birmingham replaced the King-Devick research and was brought in at the start of the season.
“Player recruitment for this study has been excellent and samples are steadily coming in from the first five rounds of matches,” said RFU chief medical officer Simon Kemp.
“However, we recognise this study is taking place in a live-match environment and that it can take some players longer to produce the saliva sample required. As a result we applied to World Rugby for an additional three minutes for the HIA1 assessment, if required, to ensure sufficient time for samples to be collected.”
Premiership Rugby’s head of elite performance and player development Corin Palmer added: “This is an important and potentially impactful study which has the full support of our clubs. Premiership Rugby and our clubs welcome the flexibility shown in providing an optional period of time to ensure the accurate completion of the saliva samples alongside the HIA.”