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by Lisa Albergo reporting for AFANA from Chicago

With the recent death of NFL player Junior Seau, the focus on sports players and the long-term effects of repeated concussions has come to the fore more than ever before. Seau is not the first NFL player to die prematurely as a result of multiple concussions and several former AFL players have also publicly stated they have had issues as the result of concussions during their playing days.

While the AFL already has several research projects in process, AFLPA general manager (and former Carlton player) Ian Prendergast will travel to the USA to meet with player association representatives from the NFL, NBA and Major League Baseball. Prendergast will head for New York, San Diego and Washington to learn how these organizations have gone about their research into chronic traumatic encephalopathy. CTE is brain damage which can be caused by repeated trauma such as concussions. Prendergast said both the league and the AFLPA were being "... proactive in ... assessing what is happening in Australia and ... around the world in CTE". Studies in the USA have already shown a connection between concussions and CTE, a neuro-degenerative disease that results in Alzheimer's-like symptoms including memory loss, blurred vision and mood swings. Currently, this connection can only be determined after death. Former Demon Daniel Bell revealed last year that he suffered "fogginess" and memory loss as the result of repeated concussions. He said he kept his condition a secret for two years so he would not lose his place in the team. Former Eagle Dean Kemp said he still suffers post-concussion symptoms more than a decade after his retirement. Recently retired Crow Scott Stevens is another whose career was cut short as the result of head knocks. He said he suffered headaches, nausea, vomiting and vision problems. He, Bell and several others began seeking compensation from the AFL last year.

Former Bomber champion Tim Watson said he would be willing to donate his brain to science for research on the subject as he suffered several knocks during his career. He has also encouraged others to do so and knows of a number of players willing to do the same. Fellow SEN personality and former Hawk Dermott Brereton has come out in support of player agent Peter Jess to establish a "brain bank" in Australia to test for long-term effects of concussions and other serious head injuries. Jess has already begun discussions for such a program with Melbourne's Alfred Hospital and is working to raise funds so that suburban and junior clubs can also implement testing and educational programs.


Article last changed on Wednesday, May 30, 2012 - 9:33 AM EDT

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