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Law firm Slater and Gordon has joined the growing number of voices calling for more testing of NRL players to prevent and treat concussions or head trauma injuries. 

As the NRL rolls out a new protocol that sees players stand down for 11 days in the event of a head injury, there are also calls to do earlier diagnoses and treatments that can prevent serious brain injuries. 

“We are becoming increasingly concerned with the growing incidences of past and current NRL players being diagnosed with brain injuries as a result of concussion,” said Tim Cummings, Salter and Gordon Head of Medical Law. 

“We are also aware of the recent submissions made to the current senate inquiry into concussions and repeated head trauma in contact sports.” 

Only three rounds into the current NRL season, almost 50 players have been made unavailable due to Head Injury Assessment (HIA).  

Meanwhile, a Senate Inquiry into concussions and repeated head trauma in contact sport is undergoing its investigation, with a report expected by 21 June 2023. 

“We have and are continuing to review the medical evidence in relation to the prevalence of brain injury in contact sports, particularly the NRL,” Cummings said. 

The Australian Institute of Sport’s 2023 Concussion and Brain Health Position Statement recognised the risk of significant brain damage in contact sports of “accelerated brain ageing and neurodegenerative diseases” and included recommendations for the major sporting organisations. 

In a statement to LSJ, Concussion Legacy Foundation Australia (CLFA) welcomed the new protocols implemented by the NRL.  

“However”, CLFA continued, “based on international science, the CLFA advocates for longer minimum mandatory rest periods (28 days) and does not support the category 1 and 2 criteria used by the NRL for mandatory or non-mandatory rest periods respectively, as there is no scientific evidence support the use of categories in diagnosing concussion.”  

Cummings concluded: “We want the sport to be safe for everyone… and for players to know that they can have a long and safe career.  

“We advise those who believe they may have suffered concussion injuries to seek appropriate medical advice in relation to their health and legal advice about their rights.”