Brain Health Clinic

Scottish Rugby has the welfare of all our players both current and former central to all we do.

Work continues in Scotland, on and off the field, to address player safety, taking the issues of brain health seriously. We have a proactive approach demonstrated through the newly established Brain Health Clinic, set up by Scottish Rugby in May 2022, and by partnering with organisations such as HITIQ to improve our understanding of concussion and contact in rugby through head impact sensor technology in mouthguards, alongside partnering in a number of other research projects

Providing a service initially to former Scotland players the pilot Brain Health Clinic, thought to be the first of its kind, has been developed by Scottish Rugby’s Chief Medical Officer, Dr James Robson and Prof Craig Ritchie (University of Edinburgh and NHS Lothian).

Described as providing a ‘brain health MOT’ the clinic invites former Scotland players to take advantage of the service to help assess possible risks to future brain health, as part of broader Brain Health Services being developed in parallel for the public by NHS Scotland and Brain Health Scotland.

The clinic is free and runs on a weekly basis at BT Murrayfield, with invitations to undergo an assessment now being issued.

The clinic concept is designed to develop both a service to former players exposed to contact sport and also a blueprint which forms the basis of a service that is being developed within the NHS for the public and will be rolled out nationally by 2025.

Male and female former players who wish to utilise the clinic will undertake a three-stage investigation phase involving blood testing, brain scanning and health/lifestyle interviews which will help build a picture of how the clinicians can best support the individual with a brain health plan.

Work is then tailored to the individual patient providing risk profiling and prevention planning to manage future health through help and advice on key lifestyle factors such as physical exercise, sleep, diet, sociability and keeping mentally active.

The patient will see the clinician at least 2-3 times over several months, with their GP notified of outcomes. Their results will provide a valuable benchmark to monitor future brain health.

This is not a research project. Rather the objective is to help ex-players understand their risk for impaired brain health and discuss any concerns they may have.

The Brain Health Clinic has been made possible by bringing together world-leading brain health medical experts based in Scotland and the UK.

Brain Health Scotland, Alzheimer Scotland, the University of Edinburgh and World Rugby have all contributed time, expertise and resources towards the ambition of establishing the clinic and its objectives alongside Scottish Rugby, which is funding and hosting the pilot to continue its on-going role in supporting medical initiatives delivering player welfare programmes.

If you are a former Scotland internationalist and want to know more about this clinic or book an appointment, then please e-mail [email protected]

For any media interest in the clinic please contact Scottish Rugby via [email protected]

For more information on brain health for both current and former players, please visit the World Rugby website for resources and information on the topic, including their short film ‘Rugby and Brain Health’.

Listen to a podcast epsiode featuring Dr James Robson and Professor Craig Ritchie

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