The pilot scheme will be used to provide risk profiling and prevention planning before similar services are made available to the general public through the NHS.
Described as providing a ‘brain health MOT’, the clinic will invite former Scotland internationals to take advantage of the service to help assess possible risks to future brain health.
Scottish Rugby is hosting the clinic which will be led by Professor Craig Ritchie, Professor of Aging Psychiatry at the University of Edinburgh and Director of Brain Health Scotland.
Invitations to take an assessment are being sent this week to former male and female players in the 40-60 age bracket.
Participants will undertake a three-step investigative phase including blood tests, brain scan and health/lifestyle interviews which will help build a picture of how clinicians can best support the individual with a brain health plan.
The plan is to help manage future health with help and advice on key lifestyle factors such as exercise, sleep, diet, socializing and maintaining a healthy lifestyle. mental activity.
The patient will see the clinician at least two to three times over several months, with their GP informed of the results. Their results will provide a benchmark for monitoring future brain health.
A statement from Scottish Rugby said: “The clinic concept is designed to develop both a service for former players exposed to contact sport and also a plan which forms the basis of a service being developed within the NHS for the public and will be rolled out nationwide by 2025.
“It also has the potential to be developed internationally and clinics delivered throughout the global rugby community.
“The Brain Health Clinic was made possible by bringing together world-renowned brain health medical experts based in Scotland and the UK.
“Brain Health Scotland, Alzheimer Scotland, the University of Edinburgh and World Rugby have all contributed time, expertise and resources to the ambition to establish the clinic and its aims alongside Scottish Rugby, which funds and hosts the pilot project to continue its ongoing activities. role in supporting medical initiatives offering player wellness programs.
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Dr James Robson, Scottish Rugby’s chief medical officer, said: “While a lot is known about physical and mental health, the health of our brains is an area we continue to learn more about and the clinic is a revolutionary and essential step in deepening this understanding and supporting those who have played rugby as they move into later life.
Prof Ritchie said: “Through Brain Health Scotland and this collaboration with Scottish Rugby, we are putting a compelling evidence base into practice. We now know that brain changes occur in midlife that, if left unmanaged, could lead to dementia later in life.
“We also know a lot about the risk factors for these changes and what can speed them up or slow them down.
“We still need to know more, but we know enough to start working with and for former players to help them manage their brain health.
“Very soon, we expect very similar services to be launched for the general public within the NHS. The collaboration with Scottish Rugby has really helped to accelerate the parallel work we are doing with the NHS.”
The move is backed by former Scotland and Lions hooker Gordon Bulloch, who said: “None of us are getting any younger and no one knows what lies ahead, so it’s best to be as prepared as you are. possible.
“I think the work that has been done so far to develop the clinic to offer this service to former players can only be beneficial. Brain health and physical health go hand in hand and the more we understand about this area, the more we can support players from previous generations and those playing now in the future.
Former Scotland internationalist Jilly McCord said: “I know many former players are concerned about the impact rugby may have had on their brains, and this is a very positive step in addressing those concerns and offering tangible support.”