Trinity Research Fellow, Greg Tierney, is one of five finalists competing for a €2,500 prize in the “Making an Impact” Competition. “Making an Impact” is a research-communication competition run by the Higher Education Authority (HEA) in collaboration with The Irish Independent.
Tierney explained to Trinity News that his entry, “Lowering the Tackle Height Law in Rugby” explores “how lowering the tackle height law in rugby union to below the chest of the ball carrier could reduce concussion incidence as well as improve long term player brain health.” The current threshold for a high tackle is the line of the shoulders. So far Tierney’ s research has found that “tackling around the chest and shoulders of the ball carrier is a high risk scenario for the tackler receiving a direct head impact, and subsequently, being removed from play for a head injury assessment.
The research has also found that “active shoulder tackles to the chest/shoulder region of the ball carrier causes significantly higher whiplash style head motions for the ball carrier. This may contribute to the development of the cognitive deficits reported for rugby players, even in those without a reported history of concussion.”
Tierney is an Irish Research Council PhD scholar at Trinity’s Centre for Bioengineering. Tierney’s research, which focuses on using video evidence to understand the kinematic scenarios resulting in concussion, was awarded the best early stage PhD at the Bioengineering in Ireland Conference in January 2015.
The competition is open to registered postgraduate research students of any discipline. The objective of the competition, as stated on the HEA website, is “the effective communication of research to a lay audience…It is not about presenting an academic summary of your work; it is about grabbing a reader or viewer’s attention”. The participants are to outline why their research “matters to Irish society or in a global context”.
The five finalists will present their research in front of an expert panel on November 15. They will have a maximum of ten minutes each to make the presentation, followed by a brief question and answer session with the panel. One winner is chosen by the panel, and one by an audience of secondary school students.