DR JAMES Robson, Scottish Rugby’s chief medical officer, has welcomed the announcement of “ground-breaking research” by the University of Aberdeen into spinal cord injury.
Scottish Rugby is helping fund the research, where scientists are believed to be the first in the world to use a combination of different methods to tackle injuries which can be caused by accidents, medical conditions and injuries from a wide range of sports, including rugby. The technique would involve placing a biodegradable silk fibre ‘bridge’ over the spinal injury wound and this would act as a scaffold for nerves to grow through.
Dr Robson said: “We are delighted to support this ground-breaking research at the University of Aberdeen.
“It’s important to note that the benefits of taking part in rugby, just like any sport, far outweigh any possible risks. However, at Scottish Rugby, we believe it is of fundamental importance that we create as safe a game as possible.
“We have undertaken a number of measures, especially within youth rugby, to enhance player welfare and we will continue to look at any areas where we can improve the health and wellbeing of our participants.
“Severe injury to the spinal cord remains, thankfully, a rare occurrence. If we can help scientists in the drive to regenerate damaged nerves, it will represent a considerable breakthrough.”
Electrical and chemical stimulation would also be applied to the area in a bid to encourage nerve growth and reconnections. If successful, this combined nerve repair technique could be used to help other conditions, such as stroke and brain injury.
It’s estimated that 40,000 people in the UK live with the consequences of spinal cord injury and more than half are males aged 15 to 30.
Dr Ann Rajnicek, Aberdeen Nerve Repair Group scientist, said: “Our plan is to create an environment at the site of a spinal cord injury that will enable and encourage nerve cells to regrow and re-establish connections. That’s why we are taking a multi-faceted approach.”