‘Struggles daily’: Gary Ablett sues AFL over brain damage

Gary Ablett, popularly referred to as 'God' by Geelong supporters, is the highest-profile player to reveal his concussion issues.

Gary Ablett, popularly referred to as 'God' by Geelong supporters, is the highest-profile player to reveal his concussion issues. Photo: AAP

Gary Ablett Sr, one of the greatest players in AFL history, is suing the AFL and his former clubs for allegedly failing to protect him from brain damage.

The Cats legend has launched legal action in the Supreme Court against the sporting body and clubs Geelong and Hawthorn.

The Geelong icon is the highest-profile former player to reveal his health issues in relation to on-field concussion, now a major issue in sport.

Ablett’s lawyer Michel Margalit told Nine Newspapers his current brain injuries were “clearly as a result of physical trauma caused by concussion”.

He said 61-year-old Ablett could not work or pay his medical bills.

“One of the biggest challenges for Gary is he very much is left without the means and ability to fund the care he now requires, given his condition,” Margalit told Nine newspapers.

“This is really why he’s been forced, in a sense, to bring the claim; to be able to afford both the medical expenses and medical care he requires … and those costs will only continue to increase.

“He really struggles on a daily basis, and it is very typical symptomatology you see from players, or athletes, who suffer these concussion-related injuries around the world.

“There is everything from memory loss to being unable to work and many other symptoms.”

Last month Ablett detailed his diagnosis of brain damage, which he said was related to his legendary playing career.

He told his story as fellow former Cats player Max Rooke launched a class action involving former players against the AFL, seeking up to $1 billion in compensation.

“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 told News Corp in March.

“I told him of my concerns and Peter helped organise an MEG scan that American Military use. It showed I have significant structural and functional brain damage.

“Obviously I was a very physical player and while I only got totally knocked out eight-10 times, I experienced being semi-concussed, such as ears ringing and out of it for a few minutes many dozens of times.

“But because you weren’t knocked completely out you wouldn’t even bother mentioning it.”

Previously, Ablett also has admitted to illicit drug use when he was younger.

The AFL has previously stated it has made more than 30 changes to concussion protocols, tribunal guidelines and on-field rules to protect players’ heads.

It also released a strategic plan for sport-related concussion in Australian football.

Rugby league has made the most significant changes to its concussion policy in nearly a decade, introducing a mandatory 11-day stand down for players after brain injuries.

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