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Pelvic healthJan 6, 2023

Physio Karina Leahy urges women rugby players to join a study into stress urinary incontinence

Karina Leahy, clinical lead physiotherapist for Scotland Women’s Rugby, is backing a study that will focus on women players’ experiences of stress urinary incontinence (SUI).

Karina said: ‘It is hoped the study will help medical professionals, support staff and the wider public understand more about SUI and the impact of rugby activities on pelvic floor function in order to help to inform clinical practice and policies to better support players throughout the UK and Ireland and ultimately improve performance.’

She added: ‘It’s been great to work with Cardiff Metropolitan University, Welsh Rugby Union, Irish Rugby Union and England Rugby on this research.’

Photo Credit: Shutterstock
Researcher Grainne Donnelly is based at Absolute Physio in Enniskillen, Co. Fermanagh

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The study, which is supported by Scottish Rugby, Welsh Rugby Union, Irish Rugby Football Union, England Rugby and Cardiff Metropolitan University, will inform pelvic health strategies implemented by the sport's governing bodies.

The survey, which should take about 10 minutes to complete, was created by pelvic health and musculoskeletal physiotherapists working alongside sport and exercise medicine scientists.

The research team will

  • compare the prevalence of general stress urinary incontinence to rugby-specific stress urinary incontinence (urine leakage)
  • identify risk factors for rugby-specific stress urinary incontinence
  • examine the impact of rugby-specific stress urinary incontinence on rugby participation


The research team members are

Gráinne Donnelly, pelvic health physiotherapist

Molly McCarthy-Ryan, lecturer in sport and exercise biomechanics

Joanna Perkins (Welsh Rugby Union), Women's medical lead 

Caithriona Yeomans (Irish Rugby Football Union), medical manager developmental game

Mairead Liston (Irish Rugby Football Union), high performance medical manager

Karina Leahy (Scotland Rugby Union), women's medical lead

Partick O'Halloran (England Rugby Football Union), Women’s U20s doctor

Kari Bø, physical therapist and exercise scientist

Izzy Moore, reader in human movement and sport medicine

For further information about the project, email Dr Molly McCarthy-Ryan, lecturer in sport and exercise biomechanics, at: momccarthy-ryan@cardiffmet.ac.uk or Dr Izzy Moore, reader in human movement and sport medicine, at: imoore@cardiffmet.ac.uk

The survey, which will only record anonymised data, can be accessed here.

Author: Ian A McMillan
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