Good Governance | Integrity | Athlete Development & Wellbeing | Health & Safety

AAA partners with Queensland Brain Institute

The Australian Athletes' Alliance has today announced a partnership with scientists at The University of Queensland to tackle concussion and its long-term effects.

The Queensland Brain Institute’s #NoBrainNoGame campaign will raise awareness of the dangers of concussion and fund ground-breaking research, with the backing sporting codes across the country.

QBI will also recruit healthy elite athletes for brain scans, to follow up at regular intervals if they experience concussion.

Jacob Holmes, General Secretary of the Australian Athletes’ Alliance which represents more than 3,500 athletes across eight sporting codes, said the AAA was proud to be involved in #nobrainnogame.

“This is a huge initiative from QBI, and AAA is right behind them. It’s a no-brainer,” Holmes said.

"The safety of our members, and all athletes, is paramount, and ongoing research into concussion and how we can better protect athletes from sustaining long-term injury is a priority - the players’ interests are at the heart of what we do – in the short-term and the long-term.

“But this campaign is not just about professional athletes; it’s all the way down the line, to the kids playing in grassroots competition.

“We want to make sure we’re educating the public around the issue and giving them the best information possible, so that parents can know they support our codes because they’re safe, and they understand what to do if a player is concussed,” he said.

  The #nobrainnogame campaign also has the backing of sport ambassadors including:

·         Justin Clarke (AFL):  The Lions star who recently retired at 22 after suffering severe concussion

·         Steve Renouf (NRL):  League legend famous who suffered numerous concussions throughout his career

·         Gabi Simpson (Netball):  Emerging star of Qld Firebirds and Australian Diamonds squads.

·         Tatafu Polota-Nau (ARU): A vital cog in the Wallabies and NSW Waratahs front row arsenal

·         Jude Bolton (AFL):  Sydney Swans star who experienced more than six major concussions over his career

·         David Croft (ARU):  Former Wallaby and Qld Red with a passion for grassroots awareness of concussion

QBI Director Professor Pankaj Sah welcomed the involvement of elite athletes in #nobrainnogame.

“We aren’t trying to change sport, we’re trying to change outcomes,” Professor Sah said.

“QBI has the depth of expertise to research not just better diagnostics and treatments for concussion, but to investigate the long-term effects of repeated concussion, including dementia.

Concussion is a traumatic brain injury (TBI) that can be caused by falls, assaults and car accidents but is most commonly experienced in certain sports, at all levels, where players are at higher risk of being concussed than the general population.

QBI research currently underway includes taking saliva tests and baseline brain images of healthy elite athletes.  If they go on to experience concussion, they are repeatedly scanned in the days and weeks following the injury,  to closely observe changes in the brain. The ultimate aim of the research is to develop early diagnostic markers for brain injury.

QBI is also fundraising to establish a dedicated concussion research centre, to pursue the long term cognitive impacts of TBI.

The first edition of QBI’s Brain Series magazine – “Concussion” is being distributed across Australia this week. It is available on the QBI website:  qbi.uq.edu.au/concussion

“Understanding more about concussion and recognising the appropriate timeframe to be excluded from sport to prevent further injury to the brain, will help keep the community involved in sport and protect player well being,” Professor Sah said.

“In the meantime, get on board with #nobrainnogame on social media; make sure you know the signs of concussion and the importance of rest, and educate yourself and your family about the dangers,” Professor Sah said.