Vodafone, founding principal partner of Wales Women’s and Girl’s Rugby, has unveiled new concussion tracking technology on its PLAYER.Connect platform.

Vodafone has added concussion tracking into its platform, aiming to help athletes, medical staff and coaches better analyse the impact of the menstrual cycle on concussion and more effectively manage and track concussion symptoms.

This addition allows players’ concussion data to be compared with their menstrual cycle data outside of a research setting for the first time, resulting in more frequent and rapid capture and analysis of concussion data than ever before.

Joanna Perkins, Head Physiotherapist, Wales Women, said of the tech: “Vodafone PLAYER.Connect gives us real time information on our athletes and their symptoms, including their cycle phases and any potential concussion symptoms. 

“This lets us intervene more easily as well as enabling us to capture trends for individual players too. So, if we see a drop in certain data, we can determine if it’s the norm for the player (at that stage of her menstrual cycle) or if it is indicating that something else is going on, which is incredibly useful information to have and act on.”

Research from the University of Birmingham suggests that female athletes may experience a higher rate of concussion as well as more severe and prolonged symptoms compared to male athletes. The study also highlights hormonal fluctuations during the menstrual cycle as a key contributing factor to these differences.

Furthermore, concussion remains the most common injury within rugby, prompting the sport’s governing bodies to emphasise the need to mitigate short and long-term effects of the injury.

Hannah Jones, Wales Women’s Captain, said: “Concussion monitoring is really important for players, so being able to track and monitor this type of data through Vodafone PLAYER.Connect is amazing. 

“The app gives us the ability to see if a player’s symptoms are caused by a concussion or by the phases of their menstrual cycle. This helps us, the staff and our coaches to better manage our health, wellbeing and ultimately our performance out on the pitch.”

Being a mobile-first platform, Vodafone PLAYER.Connect enables players, medical staff, and coaches to continuously monitor athletes’ health and well-being, even outside of training camps. This capability provides a crucial advantage for national teams, allowing for constant monitoring of concussion recovery.

John Mulcahy, Performance Consultant, Vodafone PLAYER.Connect, said: “The addition of the concussion module to Vodafone PLAYER.Connect is really significant. It’s the first time outside of a research environment that we’ve been able to get holistic data that looks at how the menstrual cycle might affect their (concussion) recovery and their symptoms.

“It’s a major step forward in ensuring the wellbeing of the players and helping to close that data gap for all female athletes, whatever their level.”

Since November 2023, the Wales Women’s Rugby Team has been trialling the app’s concussion tracking module, including during the lead-up to the 2024 Guinness Women’s Six Nations.

Currently, only 6% of current sports science research is dedicated to female athletes.

Therefore, alongside the trial, Vodafone is collaborating with Cardiff Metropolitan University on a long-term research study. This study uses the data collected from the platform to delve deeper into the relationship between concussion and the menstrual cycle.

Sports have increasingly used more technology like this to track injuries, especially concussion. Chris Turner, CEO of UK technology company Sports & Wellbeing Analytics, highlighted this when he spoke to Insider Sport in 2022. 

Mark Huckerby, Head of Sponsorship at Vodafone UK, said: “It’s such an exciting time to be involved in women’s rugby and with the rise in engagement, investment and involvement, we’re seeing the game grow to new levels.

“I’m really proud of the role Vodafone is playing in this journey, through our partnership with the Wales Women’s rugby team and innovative technologies like our PLAYER.Connect platform. It’s great that we are able to help the team perform at the highest level, as they compete against Europe’s finest during this year’s Guinness Women’s Six Nations.”

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