ADELAIDE, AUSTRALIA - JUNE 24: A general view of an NRL ball on Adelaide Oval prior to the round 16 NRL match between the Sydney Roosters and the Melbourne Storm at Adelaide Oval on June 24, 2017 in Adelaide, Australia. (Photo by Daniel Kalisz/Getty Images)

When it comes to the biggest talking points in sport across the past couple of years, one topic which has led to plenty of discussion is concussion. Whether it is players taking a hit while playing football or even Steve Smith being struck by a venomous bouncer from Jofra Archer, the subject of how head injuries are managed has been in the spotlight a lot recently.

Of course, the nature of rugby league means that knocks to the head can and do happen, but the NRL has undoubtedly taken steps to learn more about how it can tackle such issues.

Exciting innovations

One of the most recent developments seen in relation to the issue has been a trial of specially-developed mouthguards. Players at NRL sides including Manly and Melbourne Storm have made use of the technology this season, with sensors in the guards providing experts off the field with information on the impacts that players – and most importantly their brains – have suffered during a match.

According to The Age, the project by Melbourne-based company HitIQ is aimed at ensuring doctors have data to diagnose a brain injury and also provide adequate rehabilitation support. As well as being trialled in the NRL, players in the AFL have also made use of the technology this year too. In addition, there are plans to expand the trial further and also include other sports such as rugby union and US college football.

Another intriguing development is that while users of the technology have to currently wait to download information from the mouthguards after the match, future versions may feature Bluetooth so that information can be transferred to doctors during a game. This small tweak could be a big boost as experts look to provide timely support to players when they leave the field of play.

Going mobile

The mouthguards are far from the only technology that the NRL has been making use of in recent months, however. Another development which has been attracting a lot of attention is the use of an innovative mobile phone app to manage concussions.

Smartphones and tablets have really changed the game in terms of how many of us live our lives, with many of us relying on them for everything from shopping to even tracking our personal fitness and wellbeing. They are also even challenging consoles and PCs as a gaming platform and providers like even offer online pokies Australia on mobile so that you can play on the move without any downloads or installations.

Considering all of this, it perhaps should not be surprising that apps are now smart enough to help with the issue of concussion. At the end of June, the Sydney Morning Herald outlined how the NRL has been part of a pilot study involving the Sway app. The technology, which has been used in the NFL and by other sporting bodies in the US, measures balance and the reaction time of those affected by a head injury. It then outlines the symptoms of concussion and provides support on when it would be right for someone to return to play.

Boosting player safety

Concussion is undoubtedly a big issue in many sports at the moment and it is welcome to see that the NRL is using new, innovative tools to further examine the issue. Getting to grips with the subject will be an important step forward on player safety and it will be intriguing to see what other new developments may emerge in the years ahead.