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Concussion Forced Out Brayshaw

Just ahead of the opening round of AFL football, the league announced adjustments to their concussion protocols for all leagues - from the AFL on down including professional, community, junior, etc. For AFL and AFLW players, the 12-day minimum waiting period (to be eligible to return to play) will remain in place. Players are monitored under a multi-stage platform and cannot return to training or playing without a medical clearance. Should symptoms persist beyond the 12 days, a player could be sidelined longer. Concussions have been a long running issue in the AFL (as in most contact sports globally). The history of the AFL in dealing with the problem is checkered at best (Ed. note: see our long list of concussion related stories over the past 18 years: Concussion related articles.)

For all other competitions, there will be a 21-day protocol. The AFL stated that this is due to the fact that the lower level competitions do not have the medical and support resources available to the AFL and AFLW. The AFL says it will work with all leagues and football bodies, including the Western Australian Football Commission and the SANFL, to encourage the universal adoption of the new protocols.

The return-to-play program consists of three distinct stages - rest, recovery, and gradual return to training and play. The updated guidelines require a minimum period of 24 hours (or longer) for each step of the progression and, if any symptoms recur during the graded return to training and play stage, the person must go back to the previous symptom-free step. Treatment is an individualized approach with age, concussion history, a history of learning disorders or mood issues, all factors in how the person is treated.

The new guidelines follow a recent statement from the Australian Institute of Sport’s Concussion and Brain Health Position regarding return to play protocols post-concussion. The full details of the new community football guidelines will be released in the coming weeks ahead of the community football seasons. The AFL reviews and updates the concussion protocols annually. This year's adjustments were prepared by the AFL’s Chief Medical Officer Michael Makdissi in conjunction with the AFL’s Medical Working Group and with input from the AFL Concussion Scientific Committee which has membership of medical experts from Australia and overseas.

AFL General Counsel Stephen Meade said the AFL takes the issue of concussion very seriously and the updated guidelines reflect the AFL’s ongoing commitment to the health and safety of all present, past and future players, “The AFL’s concussion guidelines are the most stringent concussion protocols in Australian sport both at a community and elite level and we are committed to continuing to take action to protect the safety of players at all levels of the game. “The updated community guidelines represent a significant step in the AFL’s existing record of ongoing improvements to its concussion management strategy that reflect medical research and other learnings over time. We play a contact sport and there is always going to be risk, however over recent years we have continued to take action to strengthen match-day protocols and amend the Laws of the Game to discourage high contact, and we will continue to do so. We continue to listen and learn from the medical and scientific professionals and take action to deal with the important topic of concussion and player safety. While there are risks of injury in our sport, we will continue to act to reduce and manage those risks, and there are also many very significant physical and mental health benefits of playing our great game.”

Source: Jay Allen, AFL Media Release

Article last changed on Sunday, March 10, 2024 - 8:44 AM EDT


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