Following the release of the updated concussion guidelines for AFL / AFLW, we have now finalised the AFL Concussion Guidelines for Australian Football at all levels outside the AFL / AFLW competitions.
The guidelines have been developed to assist community football leagues, clubs, players, parents, coaches, trainers & other stakeholders on how to assess and manage any player who has suffered concussion or is suspected of having a concussion.
Head impacts can be associated with serious and potentially fatal brain injuries.
In the early stages of injury, it is often not clear whether you are dealing with a concussion or there is a more severe underlying structural head injury. For this reason, the most important steps in initial management include:
- Recognising a suspected concussion
- Removing the player from the game
- Referring the player to a medical doctor for assessment.
- Where there is no medical doctor present to assess the player, or the diagnosis of concussion cannot be ruled out at the time of injury, the player must NOT be allowed to return to play in the same match / training session.
Any player who has suffered a concussion or is suspected of having a concussion must be medically assessed as soon as possible.
There should be an accredited first aider at every game and the basic rules of first aid should be used when dealing with any player who is unconscious or injured.
These guidelines outline the important steps for return to play following concussion including:
- A brief period of complete physical and cognitive rest (24-48 hours).
- A period of symptom-limited activity (e.g., reading, walking) to allow full recovery.
- A graded loading program (with monitoring).
- Clearance by a medical doctor (prior to returning to competitive contact sport / full contact training sessions).
Players should not enter the graded loading program until they have recovered from their concussion. Recovery means that all concussion-related symptoms and signs have fully resolved (for at least 24 hours) at rest and with activities of daily living, and they have successfully returned to work or school, without restrictions.
The earliest that a player may return to play (once they have successfully completed a graded loading program and they have obtained medical clearance) is on the 12th day after the day on which the concussion was suffered.
HeadCheck Concussion Management App
The HeadCheck Concussion App for both children and adults has been developed to help Trainers, Coaches or Parents/Guardians to recognise the symptoms of a suspected concussion and its severity. The Head App guides non-medical users through a series of concise questions and observations to quickly identify whether a child’s head injury requires an ambulance, hospital, or a GP visit.
The App also assists Parents/Guardians in managing their child’s recovery program based on the symptoms displayed as well as guide the Parents/Guardians on their child’s safe return to school, training and games.
The App can be downloaded for free via the following links:
- Jack Riewoldt discusses his own concussion experience (video)
- Jude Bolton discusses the seriousness of concussion (video)
Resources for Clubs
- Return to Play Following Concussion – Medical Clearance Form
- Return to Play Following Concussion – Checklist Form
- Social Media Messaging Guide
- Concussion Management in Australian Football Poster
Resources for Coaches