HITIQ Instrumented Mouth Guard Trials Successfully Launched with Six URC Teams
Six teams from the United Rugby Championship have successfully begun a project using instrumented mouth guards from HITIQ aimed at providing new data to assist with head injury management.
URC Grand Finals DHL Stormers are one of three teams participating in the project in South Africa alongside the Vodacom Bulls and Emirates Lions, while Scarlets, Benetton and Edinburgh Rugby are the European-based teams taking part. (Edinburgh’s participation is through a research partnership agreement between Scottish Rugby and HITIQ.)
The sensors embedded in these mouth guards provide objective information on the frequency, intensity, and location of head impacts. This 'hard data' plays a crucial role in identifying head impact exposure rates, analysing playing positions, training drills, and individual players.
The metrics provided by the HITIQ system have the potential to assist in the identification and rehabilitation of concussions, as well as assists management of player contact load monitoring in general.
All clubs received visits from the HITIQ team where their players in addition to getting superb education on the technology, had their mouths scanned to provide custom-fit devices. As part of the trial HITIQ have provided 160 units.
The URC is committed to assessing entry points for technology trials or proof of concepts that can help to broaden the tools available for the care and protection of players. The development of instrumented mouth guards has seen trials occur with various suppliers across the world, largely driven by World Rugby, but also within URC unions themselves and in elite rugby in other leagues and with continued cross-property collaboration in the sport the shared learnings should benefit the sport.
Medics and performance teams from all of the teams involved have been enthusiastic about the early performances of the HITIQ mouthguards in practice and what this collection of data can provide in the future.