Demon Steven May after injuring his hamstring in 2019. Picture: AFL Photos

THE AFL today released the 28th Annual AFL Injury Report, which showed the overall injury incidence and prevalence has remained relatively stable compared to recent years.

AFL General Manager Football Operations Steve Hocking said the injury incidence (number of new injuries per club per season) in 2019 was 37.9 compared to 39.1 in 2018, and injury prevalence (number of missed matches per club per season) in 2019 was 168.2 compared to 163.5 in 2018.

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Hamstring strains remain the most common injury in the AFL with an incidence of 5.1 new injuries per club, and the most common cause of matches missed with 18.5 matches missed per club. These figures have returned to levels observed in previous years after a spike in incidence and prevalence of hamstring injuries in 2018 which saw 6.3 new injuries per club with 25.2 matches missed per club.

Mr. Hocking outlined that concussion incidence (whether a match was missed or not) remains relatively stable compared to previous years, with 6.5 per 1000 player hours in 2019 compared to 7.5 in 2018. However, the number of matches missed due to concussion continues to increase with 8.0 matches missed per club per season in 2019 compared to 5.4 in 2018. This reflects an ongoing conservative management approach.

“Player health and safety at all levels of Australian Football remains paramount,” Mr. Hocking said.

“We have strengthened match day protocols for the identification and management of concussion, we continue to change the Laws of the Game to discourage high contact and also moved earlier this season to change the Tribunal rules to more strictly sanction tackles that endanger the head.

“The AFL Review Centre (ARC), which we introduced in the last year, has also provided another opportunity to identify potential concussive incidents through the use of world leading video technology.”

The AFL further strengthened the return to play aspects of the Concussion Management Guidelines for the 2020 AFL and AFLW seasons which reflects the ongoing conservative approach in managing concussions at the elite level which then feeds into community football.  

“The results of the 2019 Injury Report have a direct impact on the AFL’s investment into injury research across all levels of the game, from the AFL competition right through to the grassroots level.

“The Report provides information that assists clubs and researchers to continue to investigate ways of reducing injury rates, as well as improving injury management.

“Our aim is to continue to provide players with an environment that is as safe as possible in a contact sport and this data allows us to support ongoing research into injury prevention and management.”

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The 2019 AFL Injury Report results were presented to the AFL Doctors and Physiotherapists Associations, along with all clubs earlier today.

Mr. Hocking thanked the AFL doctors, physiotherapists and the clubs for their continued support and involvement in providing data for the 2019 AFL Injury Report.

A full copy of the report is available via email on a request basis.