Tuesday 11 March, 8.30pm on SBS ONE
Nelson Banyard, 14, was knocked out playing soccer last year. The referee and his coach didn’t notice his concussion and let him play on. Days later he still had impaired vision, trouble concentrating at school and was irritated by the light.
Gabby Bates, 22, had a delayed concussion after playing AFL aged 18. She has had some long term memory loss since and is still irritated by bright lights.
The dangers of concussion in professional collision sports like AFL, NRL and Rugby Union have been well documented, while being largely ignored in amateur sports.
Hospitals in Victoria and NSW have noticed a 32% increase in sports related concussions in children in the last decade. But approximately 75% of concussions still go unreported and undiagnosed.
Some public health experts say that too many kids and their sports coaches aren’t taking these injuries seriously enough, and are putting themselves at risk of neuropsychological and cognitive damage by continuing to take hits to the head.
This week, Insight speaks to young amateur competitors from a range of sports about their experiences with concussion.
Host Jenny Brockie also hears from medical experts about the short and long term effects of head injuries, and finds out what to do when a kid sustains a concussion playing sport.
Nelson Banyard, 14
Nelson Banyard says he “dropped like a sack of potatoes” when his opponent’s knee hit his head during a soccer game last year and he was knocked out. When he regained consciousness moments later, he was dizzy, disoriented and couldn’t recognise one of his team mates. But the referee and coach didn’t notice Nelson’s concussion and let him keep playing.
Jackson Weir, 16
Jackson Weir can’t remember much about what happened when he was knocked in the head during a rugby league match last year. He was allowed to play the rest of that game and was sick for several hours afterwards. Jackson has wanted to play professional NRL since he was four years old, and now has a contract with the North Queensland Cowboys’ development team.
Over his rugby career with the Melbourne Rebels and England, Michael Lipman had dozens of concussions. There are entire games he doesn’t remember playing. After persistent headaches and dizziness became worse and worse, in 2012 he made the decision to retire. Michael says if he ever has kids they are getting a tennis racquet or golf club put in their hands.
Dr Dave Ellemberg is a developmental neuroscientist from Montreal who believes that even a single concussion sustained by an adolescent can have long term effects. Dave’s research focuses on the functional plasticity of the human brain during its development and its potential for recovery. Dave believes that teens are more sensitive to the effects of sport-related concussions than adults.
Insight is hosted by Gold Walkley Award-winning journalist Jenny Brockie and airs every Tuesday at 8.30pm on SBS ONE.www.sbs.com.au/insight | Twitter: #InsightSBS