A professional sports concussion class action in Australia is a step closer after the launch of a website seeking expressions of interest from former athletes.
The website concussionmatters南京夜网南京夜生活 is by outspoken concussion campaigner Peter Jess, the veteran player agent who has long railed against perceived inaction from the AFL in relation to head injuries.
The website asks players to detail their condition and diagnosis. “We want to help you and provide an opportunity for you to obtain medical support and adequate compensation,” the website says.
“If you suffered concussion/head injury while playing sport – AFL, Rugby League, Rugby Union, Soccer, Basketball or other professional sports – we want to ensure you have access to proper medical support and are compensated for the effect this may have on your life – now or in the future.
“Concussion Matters will contact everyone who registers and will arrange to test those most at risk using multi-modality analysis using objective and validated neurological testing methods.
“In addition to diagnosing potential medical issues, Concussion Matters will seek to develop a Class Action to compensate those people who have been affected.”
Concussion has become an increasingly sensitive topic in Australian sport. The Australian Athletes Alliance – a conglomerate of Australian player unions – recently established a concussion working group with the aim of funding independent research into concussion. The AFL has helped bankroll research into the effects of head knocks to players, although a timeframe for the release of data has been elusive.
The league also sent a contingent to the recent International Consensus Conference on Concussion in Sport in Berlin.
Several AFL players have retired in recent seasons as a result of concussion, including Brisbane Lions pair Matt Maguire and Justin Clarke, North Melbourne’s Leigh Adams and Geelong’s Sam Blease. Melbourne’s Heritier Lumumba had much of his 2016 season wiped out because of concussion, and is set to retire as a result. The prospect of the former Collingwood player taking legal action against the Demons has been mooted.
Cricket Australia has also upped its game in terms of concussion management, recently introducing a concussion substitute – one of the recommendations to come from an independent report into the death of Phillip Hughes following a blow to the head from a bouncer in November 2014.
The extent of the concussion problem is however contentious. Earlier this year, Associate Professor Paul McCrory – who is part of the AFL’s concussion working group – slammed the media for “over-simplifying” the issue, particularly in the US where the NFL finalised a $US1 billion settlement with thousands of former players.
There is also a divergence in views surrounding the management of concussions.
A recent Harvard University study into the health of American football players questioned practices surrounding club doctors, and whether players, suggesting that players better utilise personal doctors. “Club doctors are clearly fundamental to protecting and promoting player health,” the report said.
“Yet given the various roles just described, it is evident that they face an inherent structural conflict of interest. This is not a moral judgment about them as competent professionals or devoted individuals, but rather a simple fact of the current organisational structure of their position in which they simultaneously perform at least two roles that are not necessarily compatible.”