Return of Footy Concussion Watch

Our primary visitors do not know much about Footy, also known as Australian Rules Football, however due to this author liking the sport combined with the seemingly lack of current awareness Down Under I feel it is worthy of keeping up on here.

Last year I was rather critical of how the AFL and the Footy culture appeared to not to be up-to-speed with the concussion/brain injury definitely inherent to the sport;

It should come as no surprise that concussions have been seemingly low for a sport with a ton of full speed collisions; a lot of them coming “unannounced” and unexpectedly, the most prevalent way of sustaining a concussive blow.  There were 374 games played in the season with only 46 found concussions (some of them were classified concussion via the Fink Rule).

Not surprisingly after people started taking notice in Australia and with others (like this blog) doing their best to track the injury the AFL reported a rise in incidence;

After the AFL yesterday announced in its annual injury survey that the incidence of concussion rose in 2011 – following the introduction of new guidelines designed to better protect players from the condition…

However we must hand it to the researchers Down Under, as they have begun a test-retest data gathering program.  David Maddocks, a neuropsychologist and concussion researcher had the foresight to test players and control groups back in 1989-1992 and now 20 some years later Maddocks will perform the same tests;

Maddocks said: ”I don’t think there’s anyone else in the world that will have this sort of data so it’s very exciting.

”These ex-players are now all around the age of 50 and … we’ve also got a group of umpires who were pretty well matched back then for physical fitness and age, but who haven’t had the knocks.

”It may be that we find some individuals who aren’t coping that well, but that might simply be a reflection of the same proportion that we see in the normal population.”

Maddocks’ testing of players and umpires more than 20 years ago was designed to measure memory, reaction times, speed of information processing and the impact of heavy knocks. Comparing their performances in the same tests now will show whether ex-footballers have declined disproportionately.

Maddocks is exactly right, this will be the first data with longevity built-in that is tailored to a specific sport, and a collision sport at that.  However, in reading the last part of the article you will notice that the AFL itself is hoping that Maddocks finds nothing;

AFL Medical Officers’ Association chief Hugh Seward yesterday said that Maddocks’ database was invaluable.

”Potentially it will tell us, and hopefully reassure us, that there are no long-term cognitive effects from being exposed to football,” he said.

Good on ya’ Maddocks and we will patiently be waiting to see what results come out, here is to hoping this is a true independent study and we will all see the impact…


We will once again try to compile all the concussions of the AFL this season, it will be interesting to see how the teams handle the reporting.  The league should use Geelong as the perfect example of how to report concussions, as that club led the league with nine (21%) of all concussions found last year.


As a side note I will now be able to track how often other countries – namely Australia in this case – check into the blog.


One thought on “Return of Footy Concussion Watch

  1. joe bloggs March 9, 2012 / 11:04

    Dr. Maddox deserves an A+ for foresight and research planning. I would love to see his research design.

    Hopefully similar programs can be mounted in US.

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