Impression Healthcare (ASX: IHL) has unveiled a brand-new exclusive research and supply agreement that will see the healthcare company become the official traumatic brain injury research partner and mouthguard supply partner for Boxing Australia.
Boxing Australia is Australia’s national federation for amateur boxing with the role of administering the country’s Olympic representative boxers and developing the sport across the country via events and promotional activity.
The terms of the deal mean Impression will supply Boxing Australia with the Gameday FitGuard head impact monitoring platform, to be used in training and fully-fledged competitions by elite Australian boxers.
The agreement has been contracted until June 2023 with the first delivery of FiTGuard units for the first year of the agreement to be provided to the team of Olympic qualifiers for next year’s Tokyo Olympic Games.
The FiTGuard system will be used by analysts to collate a variety of data to monitor the safety and performance of elite Australian boxers, and in turn, will mean that athletes can obtain invaluable insights into their performances.
The specifics of the agreement stipulate that Boxing Australia will promote Gameday Mouthguards through their social media accounts and will include Gameday promotional advertisements in all Boxing Australia newsletters, sent out to thousands of subscribers.
Also, Boxing Australia is expected to facilitate promotional activities for Gameday at all Boxing Australia events and will further assist Impression in the procurement of customers for Gameday. From a logistical perspective, Boxing Australia has also agreed to collaborate with Impression on research remedies for concussion therapies.
Speaking exclusively to Small Caps, chief executive officer Joel Latham explained that there is now major global interest in the use of cannabidiol (CBD) in sports and that Impression is entering this market with its “eyes wide open” to create a sophisticated product sanctioned by the anti-doping authorities.
“We’ve seen, as recently as yesterday, media articles covering the Australian research studies on brain disease linked to repetitive head injury, particularly in the NRL,” said Mr Latham.
Mr Latham added: “We’ve also seen Aurora Cannabis join forces with the UFC to advance CBD research for athlete wellness and recovery. We feel as if the FitGuard gives us an edge in terms of monitoring the force impact of a blow in conjunction with our CBD research going forward. This all adds to product development at the end of the day.”
The agreement between Impression and Boxing Australia is being seen as a significant commercial steppingstone and represents a timely brand-building opportunity for Impression, a company that is currently in the process of growing its oral device business.
In parallel, the healthcare company is planning to conduct its highly-awaited clinical trial for the use of pure CBD oil to investigate the remediation of concussion and traumatic brain injury – currently scheduled to commence in Q3 2019 after obtaining registration from the Australian and New Zealand Clinical Trial Registry.
One of the key catalysts for Impression’s CBD-fuelled progress is last year’s relaxation of existing rules regarding the use of CBD within sport. CBD has been a regular fixture on anti-doping lists by the world’s leading sports regulators, although this status-quo has now changed.
The World Anti-Doping Authority (WADA) removed CBD from its prohibited list in 2018 and was soon followed by the Australian Anti-Doping Authority (ASADA), an agency tasked with conducting drug tests for all Australian athletes who compete at state and national levels. The authority’s remit is also to test international athletes if they are competing in events held in Australia.
As a result of the progressive regulatory changes, Impression now has added impetus to facilitate its clinical trial on concussion in sports in Australia. CBD is already known to be a neuroprotective agent and prevents secondary neurological damage through a variety of anti-inflammatory mechanisms.
According to sports commentators, there is a growing concern both in Australia and internationally about the incidence of sport-related concussion and potential health ramifications for athletes. If managed appropriately, most symptoms and signs of concussion turn out to be benign and do not lead to serious complications or health effects.
However, serious life-threatening complications can occur, including prolonged symptoms and increased susceptibility to further injury, including second impact syndrome – a condition whereby the brain undergoes rapid swelling after an athlete has suffered a second concussion before symptoms from an earlier concussion have subsided.
The prevalence of such injuries is growing because in the US alone, there are around 3.8 million sports-related concussions every year with as many as 47% of people failing to report the first instance of concussion.