Dementia Australia has welcomed the recommendations made following a Senate inquiry into concussion and repeated head trauma in contact sports, strongly supporting its recommendation for improved community awareness and education regarding concussion and repeated head trauma.
Dementia Australia CEO Maree McCabe AM said the Senate inquiry highlights now is the time to act to help reduce the risk of chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), a type of dementia where repeated head injuries can affect someone’s brain function over time, enough to interfere with their normal or working life.
“Chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) is preventable, and we encourage the Australian Government to act by developing a national strategy to reduce the incidence and impact of concussion in contact sports,” Ms McCabe said.
Released on 5 September following a Senate inquiry early in 2023, the report also recommends the development of a national strategy to reduce the incidence and impacts of concussion, including binding return to play protocols and other rules to protect sport participants from head injuries, and the establishment of a National Sports Injury Database.
“We welcome the recommendations for further research into the short and long-term effects of concussion and repeated head trauma incurred during participation in sport, including CTE,” Ms McCabe said.
“We commend the Committee’s recommendation that national sporting organisations explore further rule modifications for their respective sports to prevent and reduce the impact of concussion and repeated head trauma, and that return to play protocols, adaptable across all sports, are developed for both children and adults who have incurred a concussion or suffered a head trauma.
“Detailed and meaningful engagement and consultation with sporting clubs at all levels, from community to professional, should be critical to the development and implementation of the strategy and these groups involved every step of the way as we pave the way to a safer future for those who love sport.
“I welcome the Senate inquiry findings and stress that we need greater understanding of the potential impact of concussions and brain injury to protect the brain health of all Australians.”
Dr Rowena Mobbs, Neurologist, Macquarie University said for the players of yesteryear already affected by brain injuries and those at risk of decline, recommendations to see fast-tracked research under a national, independent body provide hope.
“The establishment of a National Sports Injury Database would revolutionise concussion research and protocols in this country. It would drive policy shifts and set the tone for cultural awareness on concussion that will preventable have innumerable benefits for generations to come,” Dr Mobbs said.
Dementia Australia and Dr Mobbs are working together on a joint Position Statement on concussion, head trauma and CTE and will collaborate with other organisations to develop a recommended coordinated approach to raise awareness of CTE and promote the prevention of concussion and head trauma.
“Dementia Australia provides support and services for people of all ages living with all forms of dementia, their families and carers, including people with probable CTE or concerns,” Ms McCabe said.
“For individuals I encourage anyone with concerns or questions about themselves or a loved one to contact the National Dementia Helpline 1800 100 500 for support and information.”
Please visit https://www.aph.gov.au/Parliamentary_Business/Committees/Senate/Community_Affairs/Headtraumainsport/Report to read the Senate inquiry findings in full.
Dementia Australia is the source of trusted information, education and services for the estimated more than 400,000 Australians living with dementia, and the more than 1.5 million people involved in their care. We advocate for positive change and support vital research. We are here to support people impacted by dementia, and to enable them to live as well as possible. No matter how you are impacted by dementia or who you are, we are here for you.
For support, please contact the National Dementia Helpline on 1800 100 500. An interpreter service is available. The National Dementia Helpline is funded by the Australian Government. People looking for information can also visit dementia.org.au.
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