Napier researchers develop life-saving rugby device

David (known as Euan) Bowen, is a final year Product Design student at Edinburgh Napier University.
David (known as Euan) Bowen, is a final year Product Design student at Edinburgh Napier University.
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A DEVICE designed by a student could be set to revolutionise the way head injuries are spotted in youth rugby.

Euan Bowen, a fourth-year product design student, has unveiled his product called HIT – which will help identify a potential head injury rather than prevent one.

The design of the lightweight attachment has been inspired by a traditional Roman centurion helmet and attaches to the laces of an existing scrum cap.

When a player receives a high-impact hit during a match, the cap will light up.

The technology used in the prototype is similar to that found in smartphones and fitness devices used to measure steps and workout activity.

It will help to light up the device when a child receives a tackle or knock that exceeds a predetermined force.

Euan, 25, and who plays rugby himself for Stewart’s Melville RFC, has worked closely with the team’s youth division to produce the prototype.

He was inspired to work on the idea after a close friend was forced to take time out from the game as a result of a concussion.

Euan unveiled HIT at Edinburgh Napier’s Showtime Degree Show – an annual showcase of creative talent from its School of Arts and Creative Industries.

He said: “I had a close friend that had to take a considerable amount of time out of rugby because of a concussion and it really got me thinking that there must be some sort of way of identifying this type of injury earlier to aid recovery.

“HIT’s design is simple. It is a little device that attaches to an existing scrum cap which will light up when a child receives a tackle of a predetermined force.

“The project is all about making youth rugby safer without taking away elements, like tackling, that makes the sport what it is today.”

It is hoped the product will make it easier for coaches to recognise when a youth player requires treatment.

Head injuries in professional rugby have been under intense scrutiny recently.

And Euan believes there is still a lack of appropriate support and guidance on identifying and treating head trauma in school and youth rugby.

He added: “Positive steps have been taken in professional and semi-pro club rugby in terms of preventing and identifying head trauma. 
However, I believe that kids are notorious for keeping things 
to themselves so there are still a lot of potential incidents going unnoticed at youth level.”

He added: “HIT isn’t quite the finished product yet. I’m looking to speak to anyone who may be interested in helping me get this over the finishing line.”

Bruce Ruthven, currently the rugby co-ordinator at Stewart’s Melville College who oversees the youth section of Stewart’s Melville RFC, said: “His findings and research are both inspiring and appreciated by the rugby community and we look forward to seeing the development of this ground-breaking project.”