A partnership between the RFU Injured Players Foundation (IPF) and Brain Research UK has been hailed as key to enhancing support for ex-players living with life-changing injuries.

The three-year partnership will facilitate the funding of projects and studies specific to catastrophic spinal cord or acute severe traumatic brain injury, to understand how to protect or restore function and improve the outlook for people living with such injuries by identifying new treatments.

The IPF supports rugby players who have sustained these neurological injuries while playing rugby union in England and director Karen Hood is looking forward to the developments which could be forthcoming.

“We are excited to be working with Brain Research UK to fund projects which will help improve our knowledge and understanding of the complexities of these severe, acute brain and spinal cord injuries and support people like our beneficiaries to lead more independent lives,” she said.

“We know ground-breaking change won’t come in the immediate future, but we’re confident that our funding will in the long-term support new findings that will improve the lives of everybody living with traumatic brain and spinal cord injuries.”

The IPF’s support begins immediately after a player has sustained an injury, with families and clubs also involved in the hospital assistance as well as the relevant emotional support in the aftermath.

This then extends to the days, months and years after the incident, including for life where required, to enable every player to live the life they wish to lead.

The IPF work with the player’s medical teams to ensure access to the care that is needed, such as funding a recommended physio when there isn’t an NHS specialist in their area or in the event of long waiting lists.

The charity also supports with home adaptations or even providing a new home in certain situations in addition to encouraging and suporting players back into work or education.

Seventy-six per cent of IPF beneficiaries are employed or in voluntary roles or education, compared to a national average employment rate of 37% for those with spinal cord injuries.

Brain Research UK will work alongside the IPF providing regular updates on funded projects as well as identifying new and planned work in their specialist areas and recommending studies for the IPF to become involved in to expand their research further.

“We are delighted to be partnering with the IPF in this way,” said Caroline Blakely, Chief Executive at Brain Research UK.

“There are an estimated 1.3 million people in the UK living with traumatic brain injury related disabilities, and a further 50,000 living with spinal cord injury.

“This new partnership will help us to increase the pace of research, to help understand how to repair these injuries and restore function and quality of life for those affected, whether from sporting injuries or other types of injury.”