There is concern surrounding an increased risk of neurological disorders in professional sportspeople who have repetitive head impacts. This has been well established in boxers, and there is a growing recognition in the USA and UK that American footballers and professional soccer players are also affected.
Our knowledge on the long-term effects of concussion and other traumatic injuries to the brain in Australian sportspeople is in its infancy. There are several neurological conditions that may be related to repeated concussions and subconcussive injuries, and while modern technologies such as brain scanning can detect some brain diseases, definitive diagnosis requires analysis of actual brain tissue.
Since the launch of the Australian Sports Brain Bank in March 2018, we have identified chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) in several ex-players of Australian Rules football and rugby league. At this stage we do not know how common it is, or how to diagnose it during life.
Only through examining the brains of many Australian sportspeople, with and without a history of concussion or other traumatic brain injuries, from amateur to professional levels, will we know the extent of the issue in the Australian sporting population.
By donating your brain to the ASBB after your death your family (or nominated person) will receive a comprehensive neuropathology report detailing any brain disease present. But most importantly, your donation will help us to understand the cellular and molecular changes in the brains that may occur with repeated concussions or subconcussive injuries.
By gathering this information, our sporting communities be able to make well informed policy and effective guidelines for prevention, identification and, potentially, treatment of concussion and CTE in Australian communities.