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A coroner's report has revealed that the late Danny Frawley suffered from severe CTE. Frawley was killed last September when his car hit a tree. However, a lawyer acting on behalf of his widow Anita Frawley had taken steps to conceal the information at the time.  She recently spoke to Melbourne's Herald Sun saying that she wanted to save other families who are going through the same thing, especially the depression which can be caused in some cases of those suffering from CTE.

She said, "Our hearts would break seeing others go through the emotions we went through. This is an issue for the community, it is not about a particular sport or sports, we need more research to diagnose and assist people living with the disease." She also thanked the Australian Sports Brain Bank for their work. She also said she knew there was more going on with her husband than just depression as she watched him struggle with mental health issues.

Despite his ongoing issues, he became a strong advocate for mental health and was co-host of a show on SEN Radio several years ago which addressed mental health issues and took calls from listeners seeking advice for their own issues or those of friends or family members or just telling their own stories. Frawley is only the second past player with a confirmed case of CTE. This past February, former Geelong great Graham "Polly" Farmer was found to have suffered from CTE.

AFL boss Gil McLachlan said he had spoken to Anita and confirmed what she said, that she wants to see his death provide a benefit to sport. He continued, "... we will continue to work with Anita and the family and researchers to learn as much as we can and to continue to make whatever changes are necessary to keep the people who play our game safe.". The AFL had actually been notified earlier this year of Frawley's condition.

Concussion experts hope more AFL players will volunteer to take part in research projects regarding concussion and CTE - either during or after their careers. Associate professor Alan Pearce, the Australian Sports Brain Bank’s research manager in Victoria, hoped Frawley’s story would increase interest but conceded players might be afraid to come forward saying that it is a scary topic for players.

He said, “ ... what we’re trying to do is get the research to help those who are still living ... so we can then try and look at what’s happening in people who are still living today. Can we then develop treatments, can we develop rehabilitation ... That’s the sort of stuff that we need but we can’t do it without people coming forward and helping us do the research.”

Pearce would like to have former players undergo regular testing every few years to create what he referred to as a "clinical picture” which could be assessed over time for changes. For current players it would be about giving doctors "objective markers" which could then be referred to after concussions. He believes this would help in determining when a players could return to play.

With many research volunteers suffering symptoms like depression, mood swings and memory loss, Pearce hopes to attract more ex-athletes without ongoing issues. More funding is needed to improve imaging technology and allow the development of support groups and education programs.


Article last changed on Monday, July 15, 2024 - 8:35 AM EDT

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