West Coast legend Dean Kemp has backed the AFL to act on an increasing concern towards the long-term effects of head injuries after dual Brownlow medallist Greg Williams revealed on Sunday that he is suffering from a degenerative brain disease.
The revelation comes as representatives from all AFL clubs prepare to attend a Concussion in Sport conference next month to discuss new guidelines on the management of head injuries in contact sports, stemming from the 2012 Zurich International Consensus Conference on Concussion.
Kemp suffered from multiple concussions in his 243-game career, leading to short bursts of memory loss including one incident where he temporarily couldn't remember his family's names.
Speaking to The West Australian from a Dean Kemp Football and Leadership Development Program event in Kalgoorlie-Boulder, the 1994 Norm Smith medallist said he had not suffered any concussion- related issues in a long time, but would welcome any new measures to further protect players.
"They still don't know a great deal about concussions now, so everyone's still learning, the same as when I was playing," he said.
"Obviously the medical people have always done their best but now there's new technology, new reports, new studies so hopefully it just gets better and better, the care they've got for people.
"It's a contact sport and sometimes things happen but the way the AFL comes down on things now I think they've got a good hold on things because if you do hit someone in the head you're in a lot of strife."
Williams yesterday told SEN radio the AFL must force players to fully recover from head injuries rather than leave the treatment in the hands of clubs.
He is one of seven players taking part in a Deakin University study into the long-term effects of playing contact sports, all of whom have exhibited signs of brain disease. He said there were still far too many elite footballers risking long-term problems by rushing back after head trauma.
"I'm not an expert but I just think players who are great players like (Joel) Selwood and (Kurt) Tippett and these guys are getting knocked out two or three times a year and they're nearly playing the week after," Williams said.
"There are different levels of concussion and if you're a certain level and you get knocked out there's got to be a one-month, two-month lay-off.
"They've got to get treatment and make sure that they're right before they come back."