AFL releases updated community concussion guidelines (March 2024)

THE AFL has released updated guidelines on the Management of Sport-Related Concussion in Australian Football at all levels of the game outside AFL and AFLW.

The detailed guidelines include a dedicated section on the management of concussion in children and adolescents. View the guidelines: The Management of Sport-Related Concussion in Australian Football (2024)

The guidelines, designed to help those involved in the game including medical staff, volunteers, coaches, players, parents and administrators, outline the steps in the initial management of a suspected concussion and the stages for return-to-play following concussion.

>> FREE concussion education webinar on Tuesday, March 26 – details and link to register below

In following the guidelines, the earliest that a player may return to play (once they have completed a graded loading program and have obtained medical clearance) is on the 21st day following the concussion (where the day of concussion is designated day “0”).  

This means that a player who is concussed in a match on a Saturday will miss at least the next two Saturday matches and will only be able to return to play on the third Saturday (i.e., the 21st day after the concussion was sustained) if they have recovered according to the protocols and have been medically cleared to return to play. In many cases, recovery will be slower than the minimum 21 days.

How concussion presents and the rate and pattern of recovery, vary from person to person and injury to injury. Players will also have different individual circumstances and the return to play program must be individualised based on progress and medical clearance, rather than the number of days since the incident.

The guidelines (along with other supporting resources) are available via the Play.AFL website here.

The AFL recently announced important developments in relation to the return-to-play protocols in the concussion guidelines for AFL and AFLW and all levels of Australian Football, including community football, which has led to the release of the updated guidelines.

The new community football guidelines and the elite football guidelines are in-step with the recent Australian Institute of Sport’s Concussion and Brain Health Position Statement regarding return-to-play protocols post-concussion.

Attend an AFL Concussion Education Webinar 

Tuesday, March 26 at 8pm (AEDT)

Register and attend a free webinar on Tuesday, 26 March (8pm AEDT/7pm AEST/5pm AWST) where Dr Michael Makdissi (AFL Chief Medical Officer) will provide further information on the guidelines including the key changes. Click here to register.

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