The state of concussions in contact sports

concussed, concussion, head injury -

The state of concussions in contact sports

The state of concussions in contact sports

Concussion, a word often associated with sports injuries, carries far greater significance as individuals age. The retirement of Angus Brayshaw, a now retired AFL player, at the relatively young age of 28 due to concussion-related brain changes, serves as a reminder of the profound and lasting impact head injuries can have, especially later in life.

Brayshaw's departure from the sport he loved, prompted by doctor's advice and the discovery of microscopic changes in his brain, underscores the gravity of the situation. Mark Knight's tribute to Brayshaw through a cartoon reflects not only admiration for his achievements but also serves as a stark warning of the dangers inherent in contact sports.

The issue of concussions in sports has escalated in recent years, with increasing awareness of Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE), a debilitating condition akin to dementia, resulting from repeated head traumas. Legal actions undertaken by numerous players against leagues highlight the long-term health ramifications and the urgent need for stringent measures to address this pressing concern.

Brayshaw's story is just one among many. Recent suspensions in the AFL for head-high bumps, such as the incident involving St Kilda veteran Jimmy Webster and North Melbourne co-captain Jy Simpkin, underscore the potential for devastating consequences, even at the highest levels of competition.

However, the impact of concussions isn't limited to professional athletes. Local games and recreational sports also pose significant risks, particularly for older adults who may be more susceptible to serious complications. The spectre of brain bleeds and cognitive decline looms large, emphasising the critical need for enhanced safety protocols and enforcement of regulations to protect participants at all levels of play.

Research into the long-term effects of concussions paints a troubling picture. Studies indicate that even mild concussions can lead to significant cognitive deficits, with each subsequent injury compounding the damage. This has profound implications for individuals as they age, as cognitive decline can severely impact quality of life and independence.

Moreover, the societal and economic burden of caring for individuals with cognitive impairment resulting from concussions cannot be overstated. The strain on healthcare systems, families, and communities underscores the urgency of addressing this issue comprehensively.

In light of these findings, it is incumbent upon sports organisations to prioritise the long-term well-being of athletes over short-term gains. Enhanced concussion management protocols, including comprehensive education, monitoring, and rehabilitation programs, must be implemented to mitigate the risks associated with head injuries.

Additionally, rigorous enforcement of rules against dangerous plays that increase the likelihood of concussions is imperative. The health and longevity of participants in sports at all levels depend on proactive measures to minimise the occurrence and impact of head injuries, ensuring that individuals can continue to enjoy active and fulfilling lives well into their later years.

Trust me, we at DPS love watching a hard game of Australian Rules Football more than anyone.But, we also know and have seen the long-term effects of concussions and it’s simply not worth it.

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  • Nargis Hekma

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