The technology can capture data within ten seconds

World Rugby to trial eye-tracking technology for head injuries 

World Rugby will conduct pilot studies using eye-tracking technology that could help detect head injuries as it aims to make the sport safer.

Eye-tracking companies EyeGuide and NeuroFlex will provide the technology for the trials. While the equipment used in the pilot studies can capture data within ten seconds, teams will still adhere to the head injury assessment (HIA) process and return-to-play protocols.

Studies carried out suggests that eye movement alters when someone sustains a head injury and the eye-tracking technology can detect changes in eye movement. Assisting the current HIA process, this eye-tracking technology could prove pivotal in providing rapid analysis of impact.

World Rugby chief medical officer Dr Eanna Falvey said: “We believe that oculomotor (eye-tracking) screening examination in rugby can boost the identification of concussions.

“It can objectively identify potential abnormalities in oculomotor function between a player’s baseline. When removed for an HIA assessment, this adds to the depth of identification methods available to the sport.”

Head injuries within rugby are a major concern, with World Rugby, the WRU and the RFU facing a lawsuit from former players suffering brain injuries, such as early-onset dementia.

This news follows last week’s announcement that researchers have developed a saliva test that is 94% accurate at detecting head injuries. Researchers identified biomarkers within saliva as an indicator of a head injury. After the test’s use over two seasons in the Premiership and Championship, researchers are confident in accurately diagnosing HIAs.

Related: Saliva test 94% accurate in head injury study

It is not yet known which competitions will pilot the eye-tracking technologies.

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