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New generation of headgear for rugby: impact reduction of linear and rotational forces by a viscoelastic material-based rugby head guard
  1. Mark Ganly1,
  2. Jill Mary McMahon1,2
  1. 1 Contego Sports Ltd., Unit 1 Oranmore Business park, Oranmore, Co., Galway, Ireland
  2. 2 Galway Neuroscience Group, National University of Ireland Galway, Galway, Ireland
  1. Correspondence to Dr Jill Mary McMahon; jill.mcmahon{at}


Objectives In the aim to develop a usable and wearable head guard for rugby that could reduce impact energy and lessen the likelihood of concussive and subconcussive injury during play, a combination of viscoelastic materials was employed to develop a guard with similar dimensions to those currently used in international rugby.

Methods The head guard was tested for impact energy reduction following linear acceleration, using drop tests, as required by World Rugby. The head guard was also subjected to pendulum tests, allowing acceleration to be simultaneously measured on two headforms, as well as repeated impacts to mimic ageing and repeated use. Impact following rotational acceleration was determined at two impact locations and at three impact velocities.

Results The viscoelastic head guard (N-Pro) was shown to reduce linear impacts by up to 75% in comparison to the use of a commercially available rugby head guard and repeated impacts did not impair the attenuation of impact energy. Rotational impact energy was also reduced by an average of 34% across three speeds and two sites of impact test sites, in comparison to tested bare headforms.

Conclusions This heralds a new generation of soft-shelled headgear that could help reduce two primary risk factors in sports-induced mild traumatic brain injury: linear and rotational impacts to the head.

  • concussion
  • rugby
  • protection

This is an open access article distributed in accordance with the Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial (CC BY-NC 4.0) license, which permits others to distribute, remix, adapt, build upon this work non-commercially, and license their derivative works on different terms, provided the original work is properly cited, appropriate credit is given, any changes made indicated, and the use is non-commercial. See:

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  • Contributors The design of all experimental testing was carried out by MG. The results were analysed and the manuscript prepared principally by JMcM but with contribution from MG.

  • Funding All funding from this study was provided by Contego Sports Ltd.

  • Competing interests Dr JMcM has previously been employed by Contego Sports Ltd.

  • Patient consent for publication Not required.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; internally peer reviewed.

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