The AFL today indicated that its guidelines regarding concussion management would continue to evolve to remain at the forefront of world best practice following the Fourth International Consensus Conference on Concussion in Sport, held in Zurich last week.
The AFL had significant representation at the conference with AFL Medical Commissioner Dr Peter Harcourt and AFL Medical Officers Association (AFLMOA) executive officer Dr Hugh Seward joined by AFL Players Association representative Dr Andrew Daff.
AFL Concussion Working Group members Assoc Prof Paul McCrory, Assoc Prof Gavin Davis, Dr Michael Makdissi and Dr David Maddocks all provided keynote addresses at the two-day conference that saw the leading sporting bodies from around the world – including the IOC, FIFA, the NFL, the NHL and the IRB – come together to discuss the latest expert thinking in relation to the management and research of concussion in sport.
Dr Harcourt said the conference outcomes will again play a role in the ongoing refinement of the AFL’s own concussion management guidelines and will lead to a completely revised approach to concussion management of children.
"This global conference has again provided us with invaluable information that can be applied to our own concussion management policies," Dr Harcourt said.
"The AFL had strong representation at the conference and the management of concussion in the AFL was discussed. It confirmed that the AFL concussion strategy is robust and reflects current best practice.
A key outcome from the conference will be a revision of the current concussion management guidelines, with a completely new approach from 2013 to the management of concussion in children, such as NAB AFL Auskick players.
"Rule changes in sport were acknowledged as an important vehicle for reducing the incidence of concussion and making the game safer to play.
"The evidence presented also reinforced the AFL’s current approach to the use of helmets, that is, there is no definitive scientific evidence that helmets specifically prevent concussion or other brain injuries in Australian football.
"Concussion is a complex and evolving clinical picture that going forward will be best managed by experienced individuals using the new Zurich consensus guidelines, which are currently being developed."
Other proposed changes to the AFL’s concussion management guidelines are expected to include a requirement for club doctors to make greater use of video footage of the injury incident in their assessment of player fitness, and a need for medical supervision of any follow-up self-assessment tests conducted by players in the days after a potential concussion.
The new consensus guidelines will be released in March 2013.