Football great Gary Ablett Sr has revealed he has ‘significant brain damage’ from his illustrious 248-game career.
Ablett, 61, said he had experienced ‘headaches and skull pressure’ from 2010, which then progressed into migraines, insomnia, blurred vision, significant memory loss, anxiety, fatigue and severe depression.
After the media highlighted several cases of brain damage among former AFL players, Ablett underwent a MEG scan in November to find out exactly what was wrong with him.
The scans revealed he had suffered ‘significant structural and functional brain damage’.
AFL legend Gary Ablett Sr (pictured) has revealed he has significant brain damage and severe depression and memory loss as fallout from his illustrious 248-game career
Ablett, 61, revealed he experienced ‘headaches and skull pressure’ in 2010, which progressed into migraines, insomnia, blurred vision, significant memory loss, anxiety, fatigue and severe depression (Ablett pictured second from the left)
The AFL legend told the Herald Sun he went to get scans for CTE so he could at least identify the reasons behind his chronic headaches and fatigue.
‘From 2015 onwards, and almost every day, there were signs that things had changed, then about 12 months ago I started getting symptoms that alarmed me to the point where I contacted Peter Jess, whom I’m aware has been a concussion advocate for a number of past players,’ Ablett said.
‘I told him of my concerns and Peter helped organise a MEG scan that the American Military use. It showed I have significant structural and functional brain damage.’
Ablett has since seen a psychiatrist once a month and is receiving medical treatment for his headaches and depression.
The AFL legend who booted 1025 goals for Geelong between 1984-1996, found himself unable to work in recent months and approached the AFL Players Association for financial help.
Following the media’s attention on numerous cases of brain damage among former athletes, Ablett underwent a MEG scan in November, which revealed ‘significant structural and functional brain damage’
He says he approached them four months ago and they started avoiding him and he hasn’t heard anything since.
‘I feel I made a significant contribution to the game over 16 years of VFL and AFL football so it seems I’m not the only one with memory problems,’ Ablett said.
‘And while I certainly don’t want to bring the game into disrepute or damage the image of the game, I’m really wanting to reveal these issues more for awareness and other players who may be experiencing the same problems.
While Ablett acknowledges the AFL has taken significant steps to minimise head knocks in the modern game, he says back when he played head knocks were far more common.
Ablett estimates he was knocked unconscious eight to ten times in his career and had other signs of concussion on multiple occasions including his ears ringing and just feeling ‘out of it’.
Peter Jess, who was Ablett’s former manager, has led the way in making a change to the head knocks in AFL.
He says the AFL’s lack of assistance for Ablett shows a separate entity needs to be introduced to oversee that past and present players receive the medical care they need.
The AFL legend who booted 1025 goals for Geelong between 1984-1996, found himself unable to work in recent months and approached the AFL Players Association for financial help and heard nothing back (Gary Ablett being attended to by medical staff)
Ablett’s former manager believes the AFL should pay for the brain scans of retired players such as Ablett.
‘Clearly we need to separate the AFL’s oversight of health and welfare to an independent body of brain trauma experts to address what is a national sporting crisis,’ Jess said.
‘The AFL is good at putting the game on but horrible at looking after the welfare of their past and current players, no better demonstrated than wasting $25 million on a retrospective study that everybody knew what the outcome would be, which was if you play football you are a chance to suffer brain damage.’
The AFL Players Association has previously refused to discuss specific cases.