Wales women’s rugby team using pioneering app to help protect their health during Six Nations | UK News

When Natalia John was concussed playing for Wales in 2021 it was a different era.It was the last year before she and her teammates finally started being paid to play for their national rugby union team.
It was also before the team had the funding and focus it now benefits from as it analyses the specific health needs of female players.So, after that game three years ago against Canada, John was not necessarily sure if the head blow was causing the concussion or if being fatigued was a result of being on her period.But the Welsh Rugby Union has now introduced technology for the current Six Nations tournament it believes is pioneering in the sport, tracking players’ symptoms of concussion and their menstrual cycle.
John told Sky News: “I’ve had concussions in the past and we didn’t have the technology then, and I think it would have been super beneficial for me to kind of understand how I’m feeling at the time might be normal.”And I wasn’t sure – is this what I’m meant to feel like? Is this just where I am in my cycle?
“So having that understanding, I think is so important because I’ll know within myself that I’m just having a bit of an off day.”It doesn’t mean it’s the end of the world, and I can kind of look after myself a bit better.”

Natalia John was concussed in 2021

Players tap in updates on their general health and wellbeing which are fed into the platform developed with Vodafone for assessment by the team medics and fitness experts.”Sometimes if I’m feeling low fatigue or low energy. where I am in my cycle, it kind of makes a bit of sense,” John said.”And I know to kind of give myself a bit of an easier time, as it were.”But then, on the other hand, other weeks I’m feeling fantastic, I know I can really, really push it. It’s having that insight and that knowledge is so important.”There is still limited knowledge with less than 10% of sports science research said to focus on women.Weaker lower neck strength could make female players more prone to concussions with more prolonged and severe symptoms than men.Read more from Sky NewsHuman torso found at nature reserve belongs to manThe city where monkeys look like they are running the showEcuadorian police break into Mexican embassy

The app allows the players to enter their symptoms

How rugby has addressed concussion concerns is at the centre of a High Court case into the brain damage suffered by players from repeated head knocks during their cases.It is a case that is growing but only involving male players – reflecting the long-standing dominance of the men’s game.The Welsh women players have seen the mitigations put in place to better protect their brains, notably with minimal contact in training and daily data analysis on head impacts.

Alisha Butchers uses the technology

Wales flanker Alisha Butchers told Sky News: “[Concussion] is concerning because it’s a brain injury.”We have all the necessary steps and procedures to follow to ensure that when we do come back to the field, we’re 100%. I think that’s really important.”We know exactly what the game is, it’s a contact sport and there are risks.”But growing the knowledge within the squad of what concussion is and how it affects you, the different symptoms … that’s really, really good.”Butchers only started tracking her menstrual cycle when asked to log into the new team app.”We’ve had a couple of stories in the squad where girls haven’t had frequent periods or, there’s some underlying issues, and that app has been able to identify that,” she said.”I believe that we’re the only squad in the whole world that’s using it at the moment, which is pretty cool.”

What once seemed a taboo is now a talking point throughout the squad – helping to perfect performance with a World Cup next year.Butchers continued: “You might be on a certain stage of your menstrual cycle, you might be feeling a bit grouchy, a bit moody, and you might put that into the app.”However, you might be concussed and then you will be able to identify if it’s your menstrual cycle and you’re naturally going to be feeling that way, or if it’s due to the concussion.”

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