Daily Mail Online
February 15, 2021
Also picked up by: MSN
Manchester City are in talks over a landmark study into football’s relationship with heading that would see players trial a mouthguard to measure the impact on their brains.
The PROTECHT gumshield can provide live data on head trauma suffered during training and matches. It is already in use at Premiership rugby clubs, boxing and mixed martial arts.
Now, following a report by Sportsmail as part of our campaign to tackle the sport’s dementia crisis, football has moved to incorporate the technology.
It is understood the Premier League, FA, EFL, Women’s Super League, Professional Footballers’ Association and League Managers Association have agreed to the pilot and talks are taking place over which Premier League club will be part of the trial.
It is believed a number have expressed interest, but City are in pole position. Though nothing has been agreed, the Premier League have held preliminary talks with City’s academy as the Etihad Campus, which also houses Pep Guardiola’s first team and the women’s team, could allow researchers to test players from different levels in one location.
Research has found footballers are three and a half times more likely to die from degenerative brain diseases such as dementia and studies suggest 20 headers can impact brain function.
Football’s governing bodies are already set to bring in measures to limit headers in training at pro clubs — one of Sportsmail’s seven demands.
The hope is the gumshield technology will help provide more information about the damage it causes. A working group of football chiefs and medical professionals meet regularly to discuss findings and future projects.
The mouthguard, developed by Swansea-based Sports & Wellbeing Analytics, contains a chip which measures the force and impact of every head trauma. That information is relayed to a pitchside computer, giving medical teams live data about the damage their players may have suffered.
Though the mouthguard alone cannot diagnose concussion or injury, it provides doctors with a picture of seen and unseen head impacts and medics can decide when someone needs to be examined, replaced or protected.
In rugby, Leicester, Harlequins and Ospreys are among the teams using the mouthguard and researchers have prompted training methods to be altered based on their findings.
Initial studies suggest the majority of injuries and impacts occur outside of matches and data can help inform medics about what players’ brains can cope with.