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Former AFL player seeks compensation

Discussion in 'Rugby League Forum' started by clontaago, Mar 31, 2011.

  1. clontaago

    clontaago Well-Known Member

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    A RECENTLY retired AFL footballer is seeking compensation from his former club after he was diagnosed with brain damage linked to the multiple concussions he sustained during his career.

    Daniel Bell, who played 66 games for Melbourne before being delisted last year, has lodged a claim with the AFL Players Association after a neuropsychologist found his cognitive function had deteriorated significantly and linked this to his history of concussions.

    Bell, who turns 26 next month, had hoped to continue playing football this year, but has been strongly advised against it given the risk of further brain damage. He has been told that another concussion would increase his chances of developing Alzheimer's disease or dementia in later life.

    He has spoken to The Age about his case after last weekend's AFL opening round produced a spate of head injuries, including the disturbing concussion of Geelong's Joel Selwood and the blow that left Brisbane captain Jonathan Brown requiring reconstructive facial surgery.

    Since Bell's life-changing diagnosis, on October 4 last year, he has recorded promising results through an online brain-training program he believes could help other footballers.

    Despite his improvements, Bell - who was regularly an A-grade student in high school - still struggles to remember words and names when he is tired or his brain feels strained.

    This was evident during a 2½-hour sitting with The Age in his Bentleigh home this week when he lost his train of thought mid-sentence several times. In subsequent exchanges, he attributed this to the long interview and general fatigue after a busy weekend.

    Last week, however, Bell received an encouraging assessment from his neuropsychologist after his disciplined use of the Elite Minds cognitive training program he was introduced to by his old club.

    AFL players typically enlist the Players Association to help them with injury claims, which then go before the AFL Grievance Tribunal. If Bell's case is approved, he stands to be awarded 50 per cent of the base wage of his last contract.


    It would be a sum of under $100,000, but the former player has agonised over pursuing the claim in recent months and still feels somewhat uneasy. He is also not convinced the claim will be approved.

    ''I still love the club and I don't want to put them out; they've just come out of debt. I feel weird about the whole thing, but I've got a small case of brain damage, I suppose,'' he said.

    ''There's a clause that says you have to lodge your claim within six months after your final contract, so I suppose I've thought that if I don't lodge it, what happens if I've got dementia in 20 years?''


    Bell stresses he has no grievance with Melbourne and is not claiming club doctors mismanaged him. ''The only mismanagement was from my own will to play,'' he said.

    Melbourne has indicated it is more concerned about Bell's well-being than any payout. The club has emphasised to The Age that Bell's delisting was based entirely on form rather than his medical history.

    Bell estimates that he was concussed 15 times before he was drafted by Melbourne in 2002, and that only half of those bouts were through playing football. He wore a helmet as a teenage footballer but discarded it by the time he was 14.

    Bell estimates he was diagnosed with concussion between eight and 10 times during his time at Melbourne but the two concussions he experienced in 2009 and 2010 were the most damaging.

    In both instances Bell was injured while playing in the VFL. He suffered immediate memory loss, and was unable to see his hands due to blurred vision.

    Feeling embarrassed and anxious, Bell remained silent about his deteriorating day-to-day condition. Initially, he only shared his concerns about his troubling loss of memory, poor concentration and general awareness levels with his girlfriend, Jayde Purtell.

    After he was delisted in September, Bell outlined his experiences in his exit medical interview with Melbourne's doctor, Andrew Daff. He referred Bell to a neuropsychologist who, after hours of testing, diagnosed brain damage and made the link to the concussions.

    While there are several precedents of AFL players gaining compensation for career-ending injuries, Bell's claim comes at a time when the AFL's management of concussion is being scrutinised like never before.

    Disturbing developments in American football - namely the case of ex-star Dave Duerson who committed suicide and requested his brain be studied because he suspected it was damaged by blows received playing - have influenced the AFL in outlining more conservative concussion guidelines on the eve of this season.

    Bell believes they don't go far enough. ''I think there needs to be some sort of mandatory rehab program after players suffer concussion because I could pass the tests, but I don't think I was always right,'' he said.
     
  2. SeaEagleRock8

    SeaEagleRock8 Sea Eagle Lach Staff Member Premium Member 2016 Tipping Competitor

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    The NRL, and the clubs, are officially on notice as of now, if they weren't already. It's fine to laugh at Dessie's wide field but the magnitude of collisions in the modern era is frightening. The human brain can only take so much. So maybe something has to change - unless of course the players are simply to be sacrificed for our entertainment.
     
  3. Stevo

    Stevo Well-Known Member

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    FMD. Why don't you sue your parents and your first coach for letting you play in the first place aswell?
     
  4. clontaago

    clontaago Well-Known Member

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    Concussions will happen Fonz no doubt, but as in the case of Fa'oso (spelling) on the weekend are we handling them properly.

    I say no and this case highlights the need to do more.
     
  5. Stevo

    Stevo Well-Known Member

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    That may be the case mate. But i don't buy into the 'the hits are bigger these days' arguement. With the rules around attacking the head the way they are now i doubt head trauma assosciated with rugby league is any worse than it was 30 years ago.
     
  6. SeaEagleRock8

    SeaEagleRock8 Sea Eagle Lach Staff Member Premium Member 2016 Tipping Competitor

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    From the story about Rex Mossop on this page, 'The original T-Rex keeps on battling'
      http://www.silvertails.net/forums/index.php?topic=187211.0

    "But the northern beaches icon is fighting a bigger battle; frontal-lobe dementia, which his family believes is a direct result of the collisions he sustained on the football field"

    His family may have no evidence of that? However, it is a topical issue.
     
  7. The Gronk

    The Gronk Well-Known Member

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    I heard a professor of neurosurgery state on the radio there is a direct relationship between concussions and dementia later in life. 

    They don't know the dose-symptom relationship yet though (ie how many knocks it takes to end up with dementia). 

    There needs to be a set procedure for dealing with suspected concussions, not the "he looked/said he was OK" system we have right now. 
     
  8. Pablo

    Pablo Well-Known Member Premium Member 2016 Tipping Competitor

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    Not sure if what im saying makes sense (been a long week) but the players know there's risks but they choose to play anyways. The positives outway the negatives?

    As a carpenter, im sure i deal with a lot of materials that will probably come back to haunt me later in life as far as exposure to chemicals and god knows what. Its a risk i'm willing to take to put food on the table for my family and make a living.
    I'm sure the risks of problems later in life is on the minds of footballers, but they too need to make a living out of what they are good at.
    However, what happened with that newcaslte player was a joke though, there needs to be rules about a KO'd player not being able to return to the field. Take the decision away from the teams staff.
    I mean after all....its pretty stupid that we make players safety so important by penalising players to buggery for tackling anywhere near the head because we dont want head injuries...but then let players with head injuries stay on the field.?!?!
    Time for bed i think
     
  9. DSM5

    DSM5 Well-Known Member 2016 Tipping Competitor

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    I would like to know just how many times Issac Luke has suffered head knocks in the NRL.  I seem to recall a number of times seeing him being dazed and confused and being helped off the field after heavy tackles.  Surely Gallop must act to keep this kid off the ground this weekend.  When is the NRL going to act?
     
  10. Jatz Crackers

    Jatz Crackers Moderator Staff Member

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    If you set a camera up gallop will act. Do you own a Pentax DSM and can you intervene ?
     

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