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Sports Medicine Feature

Source: Wikimedia Commons and Charlie from UK

Rugby Studied for Player Injuries

Biloine W. Young • Fri, October 6th, 2017

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Is the game of rugby hazardous to the health of the players?

In a new study by researchers from the Arthritis Research UK Centre for Sport, Exercise and Osteoarthritis, researchers from the University of Oxford and the Department for Health have discovered that former elite, male rugby players are at a greater risk of suffering from osteoarthritis, joint replacement and osteoporosis, than members of the general population.

The study, published in the journal Scientific Reports, compared the health outcomes between 259 former elite players and 5,186 participants in the English Longitudinal Study of Ageing. In addition, the authors compared health-related quality of life between former players and 2,981 participants from the Health Survey for England.

They found that rugby players aged 50 and above were more likely to suffer from physician-diagnosed osteoarthritis, site-specific joint replacement at the hip and knee, and osteoporosis. The rugby players reported problems in mobility, self-care, and pain or discomfort, but not for anxiety or depression.

Despite this finding, 95% of former rugby players reported that they would do the same again and, considering the risks and benefits of their previous participation, 78% would recommend the sport to their children, relatives and close friends.

Lead researcher and doctoral student Madi Davies, from the Nuffield Department of Orthopaedics, Rheumatology and Musculoskeletal Systems at the University of Oxford, explained: "Over the last few years, there has been an increasing focus on the long-term effects of sports participation, which is crucial to inform healthy play, and aging, for former sports people. We are pleased to present our first study findings in Scientific Reports, to support on-going dialogue and the development of best practice for longer term athlete care, following sports participation."

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