Mind the gap: sport, concussion and dementia




If you, your children or someone else you love plays a contact sport you need to read this article.

Any contact sport, such as AFL, can knock a player’s whole body around including his / her head and brain. However, we don’t yet understand the long term ‘knock-on’ effect of these heavy knocks to the head, which ultimately can cause serious concussion. We do know that  concussion can affect athletes of all ages and at all levels of sport, from school children through to full-time professionals, including players in the Swans AFL team. For this reason The Brain Foundation and the Swans’ have teamed together to help promote awareness throughout the sporting and general community to generate urgently needed donations which will fund research into the long term effects of concussion.

What are the potential complications of concussion in sport?

Most cases of concussion in sport recover uneventfully within 10–14 days of injury; however, a number of complications have been reported. Risk factors for complications or adverse outcomes following concussion in sport remain unclear, hence the need for research. There is a suggestion that genetic factors may have an important role, but the current consensus is that premature return to play (and subsequent second injury before the athlete has fully recovered from the initial concussion) may predispose them to poorer outcomes, including the development of Alzheimer’s dementia, Parkinson’s disease and motor neurone disease later in life. Specifically, very little is known about what type, frequency or amount of head trauma is necessary to induce the accumulation of pathological proteins that lead to the future development of neurodegenerative disorders.

Get your brain around these facts

A recent study in Australia revealed there are 5 concussions every 1,000 player hours. Currently, however, there is no single gold standard measure of brain disturbance and recovery following concussion in sport. This needs to change urgently and the research planned by The Brain Foundation will be the first step in finding the benchmark. The research will help amateur and professional athletes everywhere, including almost 1,000 sons and daughters currently enrolled in the SWANS’ Academy at 10 locations in regional NSW and Sydney metro.

Your support is greatly appreciated

The Brain Foundation’s ‘Concussion Initiative’ is a ground-breaking new research project which aims to dramatically reduce the long term effects of concussion and help not only our sporting heroes of today and tomorrow, but also those who simply play a contact sport in a recreational capacity.  Every donation, no matter how small or large, towards The Brain Foundation’s ‘Concussion Initiative’ is greatly appreciated. Donations of $2 or more are tax deductible. Donate here or call 1300 886 660 .

Make sure you choose ‘Concussion Initiative’ from the campaign drop down on our donation form.