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New partnership with RFU Injured Players Foundation


We are delighted to announce a new partnership with the RFU Injured Players Foundation, England Rugby’s Official Charity.

They have committed funds to help support our research in brain and spinal cord injury over the next three years.

The Injured Players Foundation (IPF) supports players who have sustained a catastrophic spinal cord or acute severe brain injury whilst playing rugby union in England. This includes support in the immediate aftermath of an injury, extending to the days, months and years after the incident, to enable every player to live the life they wish to lead. The support offered includes emotional support, help with access to medical care, and support with home adaptations. The charity also encourages and supports players back into work or education. 

With this new partnership, the IPF is also now helping to fund research that will advance treatments for those affected by brain or spinal cord injury.

There are an estimated 1.3 million people in the UK living with the effects of traumatic brain injury and a further 50,000 living with spinal cord injury. The effects vary enormously from person to person, but include impairments in movement, bladder and bowel function, cognition and communication, as well as emotional issues, fatigue, headache and pain. Rehab can help restore function in some people, depending on the extent of the injury, but a better understanding of the mechanisms of the injuries and the repair mechanisms of the brain and spinal cord will advance treatments and facilitate more complete recovery.

Research into brain and spinal cord injury is one of our three current research priorities, on the basis of the distinct mismatch between the high level of unmet patient need and low level of dedicated research funding. Since 2016 we have directly invested £4.25 million into research aimed at improving outcomes for those with brain and spinal cord injuries.  

Researchers supported by this funding include Dr Virginia Newcombe at the University of Cambridge, who is studying the damage to the brain's blood vessels and the contribution this makes to outcomes following traumatic brain injury, and Professor Rob Brownstone at UCL Queen Square Institute of Neurology, who is working towards the development of effective therapies to improve bladder function following spinal cord injury.  

The funding from the IPF will enable us to support more of this vital research – aimed at helping people to make the best recovery from life-changing injuries.

Karen Hood, IPF Director, commented:

“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. 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.”

Caroline Blakely, Brain Research UK Chief Executive, added:

"We are delighted to be partnering with the Injured Players Foundation in this way. Their support will help us to increase the pace of research, to help understand how to repair brain and spinal cord injury and restore function and quality of life for those affected, whether from sporting injuries or other types of injury.”

Further information about the work of the Injured Players Foundation can be found at

Can you help us to increase the pace of research? 

There are many ways you can support our work - to help us fund more research to improve the outlook for those with brain and spinal cord injuries as well as other neurological conditions. If you would like to make a donation, take on a challenge, or even remember us in your will you can find out more here. Thank you.