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    19 May 2023

    Research on concussion testing using female saliva is ongoing.

    Rugby Union: Saliva Test for Concussion Diagnosis in Female Athletes

    A saliva test to diagnose concussion in female athletes may be developed by the end of 2023. Researchers are testing whether a similar DNA marker-based test, used on male elite rugby union players who had head injury assessments (HIAs), can work on women or if an entirely new biomarker panel is required.

    The study is being conducted with funding from World Rugby and Marker Diagnostics, which specializes in bio-markers. It aims to uncover differences between men and women at baseline relating to concussion expression or diagnosis. Additionally, researchers are investigating what happens after concussive events.

    Marker Diagnostics said that after a concussive event, the brain experiences chemical changes that alter biomarker profiles; these changes will be analyzed using saliva swab samples taken immediately following an impact during match play; immediately post-match; and between 36-48 hours after the game. Testing began on England’s top-flight female team back in 2018 including Women’s World Cup tournaments as well as Six Nations campaigns held in both 2022 &2023 seasons.

    The researchers hope this non-invasive technique could provide doctors with accurate biological tools for diagnosing consistent and accurate concussions across all levels of competition settings – even grassroots sports where specialist clinician evaluation is not always available. Dr Valentina Di Pietro from the University of Birmingham stated it could be a real “game changer” when it comes down to detecting such injuries more consistently throughout various sporting environments worldwide.

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