Premier League to trial mouthguard tech for brain injury study

Reuters , Thursday 25 Mar 2021

Premier league
Premier league logo.

Players from two Premier League clubs will wear mouthguards embedded with microchips in training sessions to help monitor the impact of headers as part of research into brain injuries, the BBC reported.

The mouthguards, which are already used in rugby union and rugby league, will collect and send data to coaching and medical staff in real time to show how heading the ball affects the brain.

The report did not identify the clubs involved but said the Premier League wanted the research to be completed in a matter of months as the issue of dementia in the professional game gathers steam following the death of England's Nobby Stiles.

Stiles, who along with many of his 1966 World Cup-winning team mates including Jack and Bobby Charlton, had been diagnosed with dementia.

Premier League managers have called for a ban on heading in training if research shows it can lead to dementia, while the Professional Footballers' Association (PFA) has urged clubs, leagues and the FA to come up with techniques to monitor training and protect players.

The FA's chief medical officer Charlotte Cowie said the governing body had recommended changes to heading in training at youth level which would help inform possible guidelines for professional players.

"There is no argument about decreasing the exposure to the amount of heading in the game," Cowie told a Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport Select Committee hearing.

"But the main exposure is in training, so limiting that in terms of the number and types of headers is definitely the direction we need to go in.

"The force of a short header from a short distance and a long one from a punted ball might be quite different ... We are looking for more detail before we rule within the professional game but we intend to do that."

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