‘An invisible disability’

AN AWARENESS campaign as successful as the Slip Slop Slap promotion has been in getting people to wear sun hats against skin cancer, is needed to educate the community on preventable brain acquired injury, a Coastal expert says.

Kate Moore

The aim should be to get more kids to wear protective helmets while doing sports like skateboarding and football.

Headway North West chief executive officer, Kate Moore, said acquired brain injury is known as the invisible disability.

She applauded yesterday’s comments by AFL superstar and one of Devonport’s favourite sons, Matthew Richardson, about his own memory loss and fears his 282-game career may have left him with brain injuries.

Mrs Moore said the Slip Slop Slap campaign has managed to get kids to wear hats so it’s not seen as daggy. It has become almost second nature for kids to don a hat to protect against sun exposure.

She said the message about acquired brain injury and the protection you get from wearing a safety helmet should be instilled in our kids.

Matthew Richardson, now a football commentator, was speaking out as an ambassador for BrainLink during Brain Injury Awareness Week. He said after several hard hits to his head and concussions it could have caused him brain damage.

Richardson said he once forgot a 20-minute phone call he’d had until he called the same person the next day and was reminded the pair had spoken yesterday.

‘‘If you lose consciousness from a blow to the head there is a possibility you have an acquired brain injury and they can build one on top of the other,’’ Mrs Moore said.

‘‘For every blow you get to the head it can be accumulative.

‘‘Matthew Richardson is right that he is at a very high risk and I applaud him for coming forward and speaking about it.

‘‘In the past, elite athletes may have seen it as something that happens in the sport and you ignore it and move on.

‘‘By someone like him speaking there’s a greater chance the message gets to parents of young children, that acquired brain injuries from those situations in sport are largely preventable.’’

Mrs Moore welcomed the big changes that had occurred to AFL rules in regard to the protection of a player’s head.

‘‘I know there is also a discussion about how the head is used in soccer, which could create an acquired brain injury.

‘‘I think there also needs to be more consideration given to skateboard safety. It’s compulsory to wear a helmet to ride a bike.’’

Mrs Moore said the message it may not look tough to wear a helmet had to change.

‘‘If we can teach our children very young to protect their head like we taught them to Slip Slop Slap, we can reduce the number of acquired brain injuries from impact.

‘‘You only get one brain and it’s no good for it to be belted around and battered.

‘‘Once it has been damaged there’s no coming back from that’’.

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