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Concussion in sport: Brain-cooling treatment being trialled



A new brain-cooling treatment for sports-related concussion is being trialled in professional rugby union.

It is the first acute treatment for the injury able to be delivered pitchside and is being used by six clubs in the United Rugby Championship (URC).

‘PolarCap’ works by delivering targeted cooling to the head and neck for between 45 and 60 minutes following a concussion injury.

The treatment originates from a five-year study in professional ice hockey in Sweden, which found it had the potential to reduce long-term concussion absence.

Mental and physical rest have until now been the main treatments for sports-related concussion, alongside a graduated return to action.

Erik Andersson retired from professional ice hockey because of concussions and is now the chief executive of PolarCool, the company behind PolarCap.

“I see the different parts of the concussion issue,” he says.

“I think we should focus on all parts and how we can prevent them from happening.

“How can we have a safe return to play, which is very important, and can we treat it in the acute phase? Well, actually, as of right now, you can.”

Many former players will be familiar with treatment consisting of a cold sponge and bucket of water, while those playing more recently have experience of the more modern post-match ice bath.

Andersson adds: “PolarCap reduces the risk of shivering, which can be counterproductive – going into an ice bath you have a large risk of that, which would not be good for you.”

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