Government backs study into brain health

By Melissa Coade

Monday October 11, 2021

The Australian Institute of is to launch a concussion and brain health project.
The Australian Institute of is to launch a concussion and brain health project. (ktsdesign/Adobe)

The Australian Institute of Sport (AIS) has been given a funding boost by the federal government to launch a concussion and brain health project in collaboration with medical professionals and researchers from the University of Newcastle and the University of Canberra.

In a statement announcing the $340,000 project on Friday, health minister Greg Hunt said that the government wanted to ensure that all Australians were able to play sport without having to risk long term brain health.

“Three in every four in Australia with brain injuries are aged under 65, and while the injury is not always linked to playing sport, there have been growing concerns regarding the long term impacts of multiple concussions,” Hunt said, noting that 700,000 people nationwide had a brain injury that impacted their daily lives. 

This latest funding comes in addition to money made available via the Medical Research Future Fund (MRFF) under a program known as the traumatic brain injury mission, which has committed $50 million over 10 years for research to improve the lives of people living with brain injuries. 

Last year three major research projects to investigate better detection and management of brain injuries were awarded from the mission to the tune of $5.7 million. And a new round is inviting research applications for $4 million worth of grants to support projects that will deliver new approaches for the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of sports-related concussion. 

As part of the new AIS project announced this week, researchers will study the brain health of participating retired elite level athletes.

The health minister also acknowledged the family of the late Shane Tuck, saying the tragic death of the footballer in his late 30s had ‘helped to springboard a national conversation on brain injury in sport’.

According to sport minister Richard Colbeck, the ‘vital’ work on the concussion and brain project will start in 2021 and be delivered within three years.

“Through collaboration with medical experts, researchers and athletes, we will be able to better understand the effects of concussions and help to prevent brain injuries for current and future athletes,” Colbeck said. 

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