Jump to content


Accfocus: Massey University Research Finds Dementia Links To Minor Trauma

  • Please log in to reply
No replies to this topic

#1 Administrator



  • Administrators
  • 165 posts

Posted 24 March 2016 - 07:35 AM

Concussion, even a minor knock, should not be downplayed, say Manawatu rugby players who are suffering the consequences. Former Manawatu Turbos halfback Aaron Good, 33, has labelled players who ignore the symptoms of concussion silly, having been forced to hang up his boots after battling headaches and mood swings since 2009. New research has come out of Massey University, finding even minor trauma, not just to the head, can lead to early dementia.


Increased concern about injuries is being backed up by recent research from Massey University.

Alden Williams/Fairfax NZ

Good, who played 28 games for the Turbos and 19 for Poverty Bay, said he knew almost nothing about concussion when he was playing.

But he quickly became aware of the symptoms as they started to affect his every day life.

From headaches, to lack of concentration, to struggling with vision at night and mood swings, he said the 18 months following the injury was a frustrating time.

"If you Google concussion symptoms, I pretty much would have ticked the box all the way through," he said. "It was really tough during that time, not just for me but for the people around me."

His decision to retire took into account the damage he could do to himself in the future if he was to return to the field.

"It was hard not being able to retire on my terms, but I had to think about the family and my long term health."

The university research, done by health psychology graduate Virginia Westerberg, looked into 7000 cases of traumatic injury at Palmerston North Hospital's emergency department from the past 10 years.

Westerberg found 73 per cent of those who suffered from dementia had experienced a traumatic injury requiring an emergency department visit, which included injuries in any area; not just head injuries. This was higher than those in the control group.

Westerberg, a keen horse rider and taekwondo enthusiast, said people just needed to be aware of the risks of their sport.

However, she was surprised by the lack of interest in her research from sports organisations, and many claimed they did not keep relevant records or claimed privacy issues.

"People ask me, 'are you telling people that they shouldn't be playing sport?' If the alternative is sitting on the couch, eating junk food and watching reality TV; it's so much more dangerous to sit at home doing nothing."

Good, who now coaches Feilding Old Boys-Oroua and the Manawatu Development XV, was confident rugby was taking the right steps to educate players and coaches about the full impact of concussion and the potential impact once they retire.

The Manawatu Rugby Union's concussion policy, which is in its second year, requires players who are concussed to take a 21-day stand down - or 23 days for under 18s.

Westerberg said in the professional game, clubs were aptly cautious, however it was important amateur players were also cautious.

Community rugby manager Ben Koch, 26, who retired from club rugby this year due to concussions, said the stand down period gave them a way to monitor players who pick up concussions.

"The reason we put that in place is so that we had a mechanism by which we could remove a player if we thought they were doing any risks by them continuing to play," he said.

But the stand down period also meant some players might try to hide their symptoms.

Good said the responsibility to protect those players was on their coaches, teammates and family.

"You are always going to find individuals who are stubborn and try and hide their symptoms, but that is silly," he said. "Hopefully people around them can see the trauma that they have taken and take the decision out of their hands." 


Source ACCFocus
  • 0