Rugby Head Gear Julia, Haley and Hope

Brain Structure and Functions

Cause of CTE

CTE are caused by repeated brain trauma, the degenerative disease is often in the form of concussions or in other hits to the head that even seem to have zero symptoms. Such can also appear in those with epilepsy that isn't well controlled.


  • Symptoms of CTE may include short-term memory loss
  • difficulty thinking
  • impulsive behavior
  • depression
  • emotional instability
  • suicidal thoughts
  • substance abuse
  • Often times the individual will face issues with progressive dementia


At this point in time there is no definitive way to determine by test whether a patient is suffering from CTE, other than the use of an MRI. Evidence of degeneration in the brain and protein build up can only be viewed through such. On patients who are still alive the following is checked; speech, cognitive ability, reflexes, muscle tone and strength, sight, hearing, balance and coordination, along with of course MRI imaging.

Treatment and Prognosis

There are no treatments for CTE, the only action to try to prevent the worsening of head trauma. However if a patient is concussed it is recommended that the individual sleeps, cuts back on activity, avoids looking at screens, minimizes tasks, and that they ease back into work to prevent furthering the damage of the injury.

CTE symptoms gradually progress over time. Emotions can be liable of a person with CTE and the patient can develop aggressive and psychotic behavior. As CTE progresses, the behavior and become erratic and Parkinson’s symptoms may be seen. Thought processes can decrease even further into dementia with more symptoms of Parkinson’s including speech and walking abnormalities.

Design and Materials for Head Gear

Rugby is one of the only sports that does not officially require headwear or any other true forms of protections. This leads to many injuries and early retirements.

Part of the thrill of rugby is the ‘big hits’ and that is what excites and makes the game such a spectacle

-Jonathan Thomas, professional welsh rugby player who retired at 32 from epilepsy likely due to multiple head traumas

Clear peripheral vision and better hearing are two positive aspects of this, but the lack of protection does come with its share of dangers. Individuals are extremely susceptible to both minor and major injuries.

Concussions are common in rugby, but the risk can be eliminated with alterations of an already widely-used product.

Scrum caps are often worn to protect the head, and especially the ears from superficial injuries. Scrums do not protect the head in such a way, however, that the brain is also protected.

If these caps were constructed to be more protective, rugby players would use them without having to sacrifice what they love about the game. The design would not have to hinder their vision or hearing. Other helmets, like those worn in football, are too bulky and heavy for rugby. They could be constructed to with more lightweight materials.

More protective scrum caps, like the one featured here, would be effective in preventing such injuries. Being that there is not a great deal of effort put forth toward lowering the risk of concussion, the usage of any headgear is a step in the right direction.

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