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Growing brain trauma concerns as first ever AFL player diagnosed

There are growing concerns in Australia around incidents of brain trauma in contact sports after the first case of CTE was confirmed in an AFL player.

Late AFL legend Graham ‘Polly’ Farmer has been found to have Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE), a neurodegenerative disease thought to be caused by repeated blows to the head. It used to be known as ‘punch drunk’ as it was originally associated with boxers.

The disease has cost the NFL billions in player lawsuits and has seen every major Australian sporting code introduce stringent new concussion policies.

Clinical Associate Professor Michael Buckland from the Australian Sports Brain Bank spoke to Deborah Knight about the significance of landmark study they are conducting into the disease. 

He says, “It’s really only the last 15 years the awareness has started growing that other contact sports players are at risk of developing this disease.”

80 brains have been pledged by athletes, from a range of sports codes, to the Australian Sports Brain Bank as part of the study. 

Professor Buckland supported the FFA review of their policy regarding children heading the ball after British soccer clubs have banned the practice in an effort to protect growing brains.

“We should definitely be reviewing it and we should definitely be having a conversation about it.”

Click PLAY to hear the full interview 

Image: Getty