HitIQ has signed a landmark deal with Bupa Dental to trial its concussion management technology with junior rugby players.

The deal comes barely a week after the company announced the Rugby AU trial which will see its impact sensor technology initially used in the Queensland premier rugby 1st grade competition this season.

This is the first time hi-tech mouthguard technology has been made available to junior rugby players in Australia to monitor head impacts, with the aim of enhancing grassroots concussion safety protocols – and leading to better long term health outcomes for young players.

And it’s a huge deal for HitIQ (ASX:HIQ) because it’s a foot in the door of the junior sports market and addresses concussion concerns for players.


Technology measures head impacts

HitIQ mouthguards, currently used by professional AFL, rugby and NRL players, are embedded with force measuring sensors that record and interpret head impacts and the accumulation of force from hits sustained during a game.

“We look forward to partnering with one of Australia’s largest dental networks for this trial, using our data led concussion management technology that has the potential to inform local and international sports bodies’ understanding on how to make junior sport safer,” HitIQ CEO Mike Vegar said.

“Increasingly, one of the major barriers to junior sport participation is parental concern over concussions and head impacts.

“Our artificial intelligence enabled mouthguard technology, not only gathers accumulative data for analysis, but can also assist in game-day concussion assessments and faster linkages to medical assistance.’’


Junior rugby pilot project

This junior rugby pilot involves up to 100 players from the Wests Bulldogs in Toowong, Queensland, being fitted for the mouthguards at Bupa Dental Brisbane and Toowong dental practices.

In the event that a junior player sustains a head impact above a pre-determined threshold during a game or training, the parents of the player receive a text message with a link to a head injury symptomology assessment.

If the player fails the assessment, they will be advised to follow club concussion protocols and seek medical treatment.


Potential to expand across Bupa dental clinic network

Bupa managing director of health services Dr Dwayne Crombie said it’s a landmark trial that “bridges the gap between dental care and general healthcare and safety for junior athletes.”

“While the importance of an expertly fitted mouthguard for young players is widely acknowledged, we know very little about the effects of game-day collisions on their developing brains with most concussion-related research being undertaken on elite level adult players,” he said.

“This has the potential to be a truly transformational offering and we are proud to be the first dental practice to offer HitIQ’s technology to Australian children.”

At the conclusion of the trial, Bupa Dental will consider extending the offering more widely, under commercial terms across its clinic network – which happens to be Australia’s largest dental network.


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This article was developed in collaboration with HitIQ, a Stockhead advertiser at the time of publishing.

 This article does not constitute financial product advice. You should consider obtaining independent advice before making any financial decisions.