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AFL injury survey shows substantial rise in player concussions

AFL injury survey shows substantial rise in player concussions
July 17, 2016

The AFL’s latest injury survey shows that the number of diagnosed player concussions has jumped 10-fold and the number of matches missed because of serious head knocks has surged 14-fold in the past decade.

The just released 2015 AFL Injury Survey shows players missed more than 75 games across the League because of concussion last season, at an average of 4.2 a club.

This includes a surge from 1.6 in 2014, as the league and clubs embraced a more cautious policy and a rise in new concussions diagnosed rising from 0.3 in 2006 to 1.5 last year.

Showing that clubs have become more conservative in their management of head injuries, the survey also reported that in 2015 clubs lost 156 games on average due to injuries.

This compared to 146 matches per club in 2014, 158 games in 2013 and 148 in 2012.

AFL Football Operations Manager Mark Evans said the results showed that player safety was paramount, stating “player health and welfare is a primary concern for the AFL, with continued work every year around ensuring that our rules and our approach to the game works to make the sport as safe as possible within the bounds of a contact sport.”

The AFL revised its concussion management guidelines in 2011, 2013 and again at the start of 2015 to reinforce a more conservative approach to concussion management.

In 2015 the use of a sideline head injury assessment form was introduced to help doctors identify symptoms or conditions that automatically excluded a player from returning to a match.

However, the protocols used to diagnose head knocks, and the time required to recover, remain a source of debate within the sport.

Player agent Peter Jess has not ruled out an eventual class action by past players suffering as a result of the head knocks, where often they were instructed, or felt obligated, to return to the field.

Results from the first two years of the Head Injury Assessment Form will be presented at the International Consensus Conference on Concussion in Sport in Berlin in October.

Meanwhile, serious knee injuries reached a two-year high in 2015, with 16.7 games a club missed because of anterior cruciate ligament injuries across the League (up from 11.1 in 2014 and below the 17.8 in 2013).

An average of 37.4 games were missed per club for all knee injuries (up from 27.6 in 2014 and below 39.5 in 2013).

Click here to download the full 2015 AFL Injury Survey.

The AFL's website contains an education page devoted to concussion. To view the page go to www.afl.com.au/respectandresponsibility/concussion

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