AFL adjusts concussion protocols
Players will now miss a mandatory week with concussion sustained during a match, as part of changes to concussion protocols announced by the AFL on Thursday.
The 12-day return to play protocol was confirmed by the League on Thursday and is an increase on the previous six days required under the 2020 guidelines as the AFL adds further protection for players.
Under the new rule, all AFL and AFLW players who suffer a concussion will miss at least one match under standard fixturing due to the mandated time off.
It means that if a player suffers a concussion in a preliminary final they will automatically be ruled out of the Grand Final the following week. The earliest that a player can return after a concussion is on the 12th day after the day on which the concussion was suffered.
The AFL's chief medical officer Peter Harcourt and deputy chief medical officer Michael Makdissi, a long-term doctor at Hawthorn, have prepared the League’s concussion guidelines, which are reviewed annually.
"The updated concussion guidelines represent a significant step in the AFL's existing record of ongoing improvements to its concussion management strategy that reflect medical research and other learnings over time," said Andrew Dillon, the AFL's general counsel.
Geelong captain Joel Selwood, who has missed three games through three separate concussions, backed the AFL's announcement.
"It's really promising. We put our trust in what the AFL are doing around all the research about it," Selwood said.
"As players we've just got to listen … there shouldn't be anyone complaining, this is for our general health overall and they're taking duty of care.
"I think you'll find players will jump on, whether it be a Grand Final or not, we've just got to get with the program."
The protocols come in to effect from the start of the AFL Women's season, which starts Thursday night with the season opener between Carlton and Collingwood.