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Australian First Concussion Policy for WAAFL

March 23, 2012
THE WA Amateur Football League (WAAFL) has become Australia's first senior community football competition to introduce a concussion management policy.
The policy, specifically tailored for volunteer based clubs without specialised medical staff, provides teams with guidelines to follow to ensure a player is safe to return to the field after receiving a head injury.
WAAFL Board member Dr. Peter D'Alessandro, who spearheaded the policy, said it aims to educate and take the pressure off players and volunteers while continuing to create a safer playing environment.
Dr D'Alessandro explained "the WAAFL prides itself in being at the forefront of amateur volunteer competitions and we felt that we could put together a policy that was well suited to an amateur game staffed by volunteers.
"While club volunteers like sports trainers are trained in first aid and muscular skeletal management they often don"t have the training to make decisions about head injuries."
"The policy is a simple clear guideline that allows anyone without a medical background to follow."
The introduction of the policy comes on the back of the mandatory concussion policy introduced by the AFL in 2011. Under the AFL's policy, any player who is concussed is not allowed to return to the field of play for the remainder of the game.
Dr D'Alessandro said the WAAFL consulted the AFL Medical Officer's Association to assist with creating WAAFL concussion policy, adding that the "Association provided the framework using the research they had done for the AFL policy.
"We gave our suggestions on changes for a volunteer based competition and worked with them to create the final product."
Under the WAAFL concussion management policy, any player who has received a head injury must be assessed by a member the team"s personnel using the pocket SCAT 2 assessment tool ï¾ a tool similar to the one used to assess AFL footballers.
Any player who fails the SCAT2 assessment cannot return to the field of play and will have their name recorded by the umpires. That player will then have to provide a medical clearance to the league before he is eligible to play again.
D'Alessandro said WAAFL clubs had been unanimous in their support of the concussion policy, concluding "we presented the policy to clubs at the Presidents meeting in March and received positive feedback.
"In the end the policy won't work unless the clubs decide to make it happen and the clubs were happy to take it on board.
"The feedback from clubs who have been involved in incidents involving head injuries is that this would help them in their management of players."
The WAAFL has also received $20,000 in Western Australian Government funding to help integrate players with intellectual disabilities into the game through better development pathways.
WA Racing and Gaming Minister Terry Waldron announced the $20,000 grant stating "this program will provide a very worthwhile service to allow people with disabilities the chance to participate in Australian Rules football.
"The grant, which is funded through the Gaming Community Trust, will be used to develop a pathway to competitive football that maximises participation for individuals with an intellectual disability."
The Gaming Community Trust is funded by unclaimed winnings from authorised gaming events, predominantly from Burswood Casino. The Trust was established in 2002 to provide grants for worthy community programs and organisations.

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