AFL concussion rate reaches new high

The concussion rate in the AFL reached a 10-year high in 2015, according to the league’s annual injury survey.

The average number of games missed by players due to concussion per AFL club jumped to 4.2 in 2015 – up from just 1.6 the previous year – to easily set a new high in the past decade of testing.

But the AFL says greater precautions being taken in the reporting, diagnosis and treatment of concussions are behind the spike.

“Rates of concussions causing missed games continues to trend up … this reflects a more conservative approach rather than a true increase in incidence,” says the report, which was released on Friday afternoon.

The injury and its long-term effects on AFL players has become an increasingly important issue in recent years, which has been highlighted with St Kilda youngster Paddy McCartin ruled out this week after suffering his third concussion of the season.

Brisbane’s Justin Clarke was forced into early retirement this season due to lingering concussion symptoms, with other players including Melbourne’s Angus Brayshaw and Heritier Lumumba, Hawthorn’s Jack Fitzpatrick and St Kilda’s Billy Longer having extended breaks after suffering knocks to the head.

However, hamstring injuries continue to be the NO.1 reason players miss matches in the AFL.

But the 19.1 games missed per club in 2015 was the lowest figure recorded in the past four surveys.

Ruptured ACLs were next with 16.7 games missed per club last season, which was a big jump from the 2014 figure of 11.1.

The average number of new injuries recorded by each club was 37.7 – up from the 2014 average of 36.1.

“Player health and welfare is a primary concern for the AFL,” league football boss Mark Evans said.

“The annual injury survey will direct the work we do with our clubs, research board and others to continue to find ways to prevent injuries and improve recovery protocols.”

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