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WAFC Adopts New Concussion GuidelinesFriday, February 9, 2024 - 8:41 AM

The West Australian Football Commission has ratified recommendations to change concussion protocols for junior and community football throughout the state.

The new guidelines for dealing with concussion were developed by the Australian Sports Commission (ASC) through the Australian Institute of Sport (AIS) and Sports Medicine Australia.

The ASC Return-To-Sport Protocol for Community and Youth Sport Includes:

  • Introduction of light exercise after an initial 24-48 hours of relative rest. 
  • Several checkpoints to be cleared prior to progression. 
  • Gradual reintroduction of learning and work activities. As with physical activity, cognitive stimulation, such as using screens, reading and undertaking learning activities, should be gradually introduced after 48 hours. 
  • At least 14 days symptom-free (at rest) before return to contact/collision training. The temporary exacerbation of mild symptoms with exercise is acceptable as long as the symptoms quickly resolve at the completion of exercise and as long as the exercise-related symptoms have completely resolved before the resumption of contact training. 
  • A minimum period of 21 days until the resumption of competitive contact/collision sport. 
  • Consideration of all symptom domains (physical, cognitive, emotional, fatigue, sleep) throughout the recovery process. 
  • Return to learning and work activities should take priority over return to sport.
  • That is, while graduated return to learn/work activities and sports activities can occur simultaneously, the athlete should not return to full contact sports activities until they have successfully completed a full return to learn/work activities. 

The WAFC actively collaborates with experts in the field, seeking valuable advice and industry recommendations for the development of concussion management guidelines.

WAFC Executive Manager Game Development & Community, Troy Kirkham said the WAFC’s priority is the health and safety of the players, as is the commitment to the ongoing enhancement of player safety measures.

“The West Australian Football Commission is proud to be a leader in the management of concussion in sport, including initiatives such as the Blue Card in the WAFL and WAFLW, which was introduced in 2022,” Kirkham said.

The WAFC has also successfully pioneered the introduction of instrumental mouth guards across various levels of football, gathering important data which examines the number of collisions and the intensity of those collisions across WAFL, WAFLW and Youth Aged Competitions.

“The WAFC will continue to prioritise the Health and Safety of all of our participants, ensuring that we stay at the forefront of best practice when it comes to concussion management protocols,” Kirkham said.

As a result, the WAFC has been recognised for its Concussion Management Initiative, nominated as a finalist for the Sport Initiative of the Year category at this month's WA Sport Awards.