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Concussion “kills kids” as major codes scramble for solutions

A spate of head, neck and brain injuries across the major football codes has forced sports administrators to prioritise the management of concussions as player health takes centre stage.

Founder of concussion awareness and prevention organisation Headsafe Dr Adrian Cohen says the medical community is feeling the push back against a health-first approach, though remains optimistic attitudes are changing for the better.

Among the concerns are the dangers of second-impact syndrome (SIS), which can occur when a person suffers a second concussion before symptoms of the first one have gone away, causing the brain to swell rapidly.

“Some people just think of concussion as a big boofy bloke that’s got a headache and finishes the game,” Dr Cohen told Macquarie Sports Radio’s Cam Reddin.

“If you send a kid back onto the sporting field, with a head injury before their brain has had a chance to recover, they may not go home to their parents. Second-impact syndrome kills kids. Not often, it’s not common, one or two a year. But it’s one or two tragic stories we can do without,” he said.

Last week, the AFL released its annual injury survey for 2017. The survey showed each team dealt with an average of seven concussion injuries every year.

That included all diagnosed concussions, as well as those for which a player did not miss any game time in the following weeks.

“Nobody wants to change the fundamental nature of sport. We know it’s far more important to participate and be active than it is to sit behind a desk, or worse still sit on a couch with a GameBoy in your lap,” Dr Cohen said.

According to the Daily Telegraph, the NRL has adopted a trial of ‘concussion bunkers’ where medical staff observe the games from afar for signs of concussion in the players.

Headsafe founder Dr Adrian Cohen joined Cam Reddin to discuss the trajectory of concussion prevention and management.

Click below to hear the full interview