Managing Head Injuries

Introduction

Over the past few years, the YJFL has invested heavily in ensuring our game is safer, and that includes introducing qualified medics at every YJFL game, engaging with independent experts and conducting research studies. One of the main focuses has been head injuries and concussion.

We are launching in 2021 as a part of our approach an innovative new technology called ‘EyeGuide’. This is a non-intrusive, 10-second eye test that evaluates the severity of a head injury following an incident on the field and generates objective data that helps coaches and parents make more informed ‘return-to-play’ decisions.

The participation by players in our league and when they have had an injury provides the information and data to make our league better in the near and longer term. Clubs and their players participation in getting the baselines will assist this information source, with the aim of guiding the league in its future approaches and protocol.

 

About the YJFL’s Concussion Protocol

  • The YJFL Injury Protocol for 2021 will be as follows:
    • During pre-season, and early part of the season, establish EyeGuide ‘baseline’ test for any player that wants it in the YJFL, which is free of charge
    • Club trainers to follow AFL protocols and use the HeadCheck App which is also available free for parents and others.
    • Colbrow Medics will be allocated to all YJFL venues and costs will be covered by the YJFL.
    • The Colbrow Medic will complete a report on every injury they are made aware of at the venue, and these reports will be made available to the YJFL by 9am on the Monday morning following each round.
    • When the injury is a head knock, they will also complete a Concussion Management Tool Form which will also be made available to the YJFL.
    • The YJFL will make a phone call to the parents of all injured players on the Monday following the match to follow up on the injury.
    • Where the injury was a head knock the player will be invited to attend Bulleen Park for a free EyeGuide check.
    • During the season the YJFL will also be available to attend club training sessions to conduct EyeGuide tests for any player that wants it in the YJFL. This will allow individuals to have a baseline result which will be useful if they have a head injury in the future. It will also enable the YJFL to establish baselines for the League at different age levels.
    • Parents and players should seek professional medical advice to determine the appropriate time to return to play.
    • While there is no mandatory period out of the game from the AFL for community football for head knocks and concussion at this stage, players and clubs are urged to err on the side of caution and return to play when medical advice says they are healthy & ready.

 

AFL Community Concussion Guidelines

News Release

Guidelines

 

Questions and Answers

Questions and Answers Document

You may have many questions about concussions, head injuries, the EyeGuide tool or what the YJFL is doing, this document answers many questions from Associate Professor Alan Pearce and EyeGuide Director Shane Keating.

 

Video

 

AFL HeadCheck App

 

Colbrow Medics

Colbrow Medics will institute and monitor the implementation of a consistent concussion treatment regime.

The Colbrow Medic at a match where a head injury occurs will liaise with the Team Manager of the team concerned to obtain information about how it occurred, and include it in their injury report. The Colbrow Medics will then conduct a specific report on Concussions/Head injuries in which the YJFL will follow up by the Monday following the match. If the report is incomplete, this can be further clarified when the YJFL makes the follow-up phone calls.

 

EyeGuide

  • EyeGuide is a non-intrusive, 10 second eye test to analyse the brain wellness of a player following an incident on the field. This test captures data about brain health.
  • In 10 seconds EyeGuide captures 1200 data points to analyse your eye movement.
  • A player can be baselined in a healthy state, retested after an incident, and the results between the 2 compared.
  • Data is securely stored, and the system is password protected.
  • Can be administered by medical professionals or mums and dads in amateur sports with a minimal training.

 

2019 YJFL Injury Study

In the 2019 season, the YJFL employed medics to attend every game, who provided detailed reports on all injuries that occurred. These reports were analysed by Dr Paul McCrory of the Florey Institute, University of Melbourne, and it was found head injuries (including concussion) were the most common injuries for every age group. The report also found the YJFL’s rate of injuries was substantially lower than that of two previous studies on Australian Rules junior football and the AFL’s study on their elite players. (The most relevant previous study of junior footballers (in 2008) found that there were 42.0 injuries per 1000 player hours. In comparison the YJFL study showed there were 12.28 injuries per 1000 player hours.) The study encompassed all YJFL clubs, 508 teams, 10,614 players and 3,579 games. Collection of data on injuries will once again occur in the 2021 season.

The data analysed was:

  • 10,614 total players (2,527 Female) involved, and 3,579 total games played.
  • 800 total player injuries reported to medics.
  • Successful phone call follow-up achieved in 578/800 injuries (72%). In many cases, the follow up occurred prior to results of investigations or medical review so no clear diagnosis could be recorded.

Summary of injuries is as follows:

  • Overall injury incidence (all injuries) – 12.28 injuries per 1000 player hours of exposure (or 0.22 injuries per game played or 1 injury every 4.5 games)
  • Main time loss injury was upper limb fractures. ACL injuries also significant time loss however only 2 cases occurred during season
  • Increased injury risk by gender – injuries 1.16 more frequent in females
  • Head injuries accounted for 58% of all injuries.
  • Concussion not diagnosed by YJFL medics, and more information will be gathered by medics in 2021 as to the severity of the players symptoms.

Summary points were:

  • YJFL should be commended for embarking upon this ground-breaking research in junior community football.
  • Having a medic at every match may increase the use of first aid services and hence may increase the numbers of injuries reported.
  • Medic forms are insufficient to categorise injury diagnosis and outcome in detail.
  • YJFL injury data compares favourably with published studies suggesting lower injury rates at all age levels.
  • While difficult to extract from the data, head injuries as a % of all injuries seem to increase in boys (table page 12) from U9 – U13 age groups whereas in girls, the U15 and older groups seem to be at greater risk.
  • Ongoing injury surveillance is important and consideration of education and safety programs to reduce injury risk further.

The report’s recommendations were that:

  • to have parents and coaches who talk with their players about concussion and expect safe play,
  • allow players to feel comfortable reporting symptoms of a possible concussion to coaches,
  • ensuring and training proper tackling technique (may need specific coaching resources funded or available),
  • and checking that preventative equipment (e.g. mouthguards) is being used and is undamaged.

Further Information

For further information please contact the YJFL at admin@yarrajfl.org.au or phone 9850 6615