DRAGONS forward Josh Miller’s manager says he will take to the field as normal next season despite receiving a series of serious head-knocks this year.
As the NRL grapples with its new concussion laws and ban on the shoulder charge, Miller’s manager, Steve Stone, expected the 28-year-old to resume play next season.
The hard-hitting Dragons second-rower has endured an alarming rate of concussion in 2012, the latest a round-26 knock from Parramatta’s Reni Maitua – an incident that has alarmed some officials because of the severity of the contact.
The Miller debate comes amid revelations several NRL clubs are refusing to release important test information to officials.
Stone said he was yet to be approached by the NRL or the Dragons about his player’s concussion rate.
”In regards to the concussion, that’s just how Josh plays, he’s a tough cookie,” Stone said.
”The medical staff and those looking after the wellbeing of the individual is paramount. It’s a fantastic club, the Dragons. We just rely on the trust of advisers in their team to make that assessment.”
Pressed on whether Miller’s rate of concussion could affect his career, Stone said: ”I wouldn’t have thought so at this point.
”You’re the first person that’s brought that up. There was some certain conditions in his contract which triggered the second year, so we just need to have further discussions with the club … but it wasn’t related directly to concussion.”
Neither the Dragons nor the Raiders – Miller’s former club – were willing to comment when contacted by Fairfax.
Under laws that were updated this year, players who suffer a concussion must undergo specific cognitive tests in order to return to the field the following week.
But Fairfax has been told the process lacks transparency because some NRL clubs are refusing to disclose test results to league officials.
The NRL chief medical officer, Ron Muratore, said the ”two or three” culprits failed to release the cognitive information because they believed it violated player confidentiality. ”I’m supposed to see all the tests but there are some clubs that won’t allow you because they don’t put the players name in the system – they put in code and they won’t give you the code,” Muratore explained.
”Their argument is that it’s part of the player’s medical record and that it’s privileged information.
”It may well be, but it should be that someone like me should be able to look at it.
”I have access to most clubs and most are OK with it, but there are two or three that are not OK with it.”
There is no set limit at present on the number of concussions a player can suffer in a single season.
Some NRL players, including Miller and Tigers captain Robbie Farah, have been continually given the nod to take the field despite suffering multiple separate concussions.
Audrey McKinlay, a concussion researcher from Monash University’s school of psychology and psychiatry, stressed that improper treatment of concussion needed to be stamped out of the game.
”By allowing players to remain on the field while concussed, or return to the field early the following week, they’re delaying recovery and they’re sending the wrong message to other people,” she said. ”Players will return for as long as they’re allowed to play, and four or five concussions in a single season – the medical profession is saying that’s too much. They’re not going to recover well from that and they could have quite a bad outcome.”
In order to be deemed fit following a concussion, a player must undertake a series of cognitive tests, assessed by their club doctors.
The results of those tests are then compared with a baseline reading taken at the beginning of the season, and if the numbers match – and the player is not showing obvious symptoms of concussion – they’re allowed to return the following match.
What makes matters difficult for officials is that because some clubs refuse to disclose their test results, they are powerless to compare how a player’s baseline reading might have fluctuated over a number of seasons.
”The difficulty with concussion is that there are a number of guidelines around but there is no one agreed-on guideline,” McKinlay said.
”Some people would say that after one or two concussions in a season you shouldn’t return for the rest of that season. And when you get into more concussions than that you should not return to play at all.
”One agreed-on guideline is probably the next step, particularly when you see players taking court action.”
There have been noted instances this year where players have been kept on the field while concussed at a coach’s request, meaning they cannot undergo proper medical analysis before they continue playing.
Those revelations are in light of a recent study led by McKinlay that claimed 60 per cent of players who had been concussed during the 2010 season played on – a marked improvement on previous years.
Boxers are at present subject to a strict 28-day lay-off if they’re subjected to concussion.
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