Footballers to donate brains for research

FORMER Wallaby David Croft and retired Brisbane Lion Justin Clarke will donate their brains to science - in the hope of advancing research into the effects of concussion in contact sports. 

The pair are spokesmen for the University of Queensland's Brain Institute which unveiled a new campaign to raise awareness  of the dangers of concussion and fund ground-breaking research, with the backing of sporting codes across the country.

Other elite athletes backing the program include:

  • NRL league legend Steve Renouf, who suffered numerous concussions throughout his career
  • Emerging Queensland Firebirds and Australian Diamonds netball star Gabi Simpson
  • ARU Wallabies and NSW Waratahs front rower Tatafu Polota-Nau
  • AFL Sydney Swans star Jude Bolton, who experienced more than six major concussions over his career

Prior to the launch Clarke said increased awareness of the symptoms of concussion was important.

"Amateurs experience concussions just as much as professionals do," he said.

"There's no need to be a hero and go back out into the field if they've been concussed or have concussion symptoms."


It was a message mirrored by many others involved in the program including netballer Gabi Simpson.

"It was pretty horrific," Ms Simpson said of her experience with concussion.

"I ended up having to be in a dark room for three days - no screens, no light Players' Perspectives at all.

"It probably took a week-and-ahalf for me to be fully symptom free."  

"The thing that scares me the most is that we didn't know I had concussion."

Concussion occurs when the brain floats inside the skull, suspended within a protective cushion of cerebrospinal fluid.

A direct blow to the head, face or neck, or from an impact to somewhere else on the body, can create a force that shakes the brain.

When that force is strong enough, or comes from a particular direction, the brain can move so that it strikes the skull or twists upon itself. Just as for any body part that is struck, bruising and cell damage can occur.

When those cells are neurons, however, concussion is the outcome. Because the brain is so central to our lives, controlling mood, perception and movement, the effects of concussion can be far-reaching.

Topics:  brain injury concussion editors picks

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