The Interdisciplinary Nature of Concussion in Sport: Legal, Medical and Ethical Considerations

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Concussion in sport is a topic that has been discussed and analysed from a range of perspectives, and through a variety of lenses. The media spotlight shone intensely on the legal issues arising from concussion in sport, particularly in the United States with the litigation against the National Football League (NFL) in 2011 and the recent class-action claim against the National Hockey League in late 2013. Some commentators suggest that the issue has reached saturation point; however, the delay in court approval of the NFL settlement has contributed to this drawn-out saga ‘likes sands through the hourglass’.
Despite the media attention, the concussion litigation has focused on the complex legal issues arising in collision sport, but has also led to heightened awareness of potential underlying concerns in concussion-management, beyond the law. A review of the literature identifies the topic as being a medical issue, a legal issue, a regulatory and governance issue, a bioethical issue, a social and cultural issue and a biomechanical issue. (Doherty, 2012). Researchers from these disciplines have published widely on the topic. However, the majority of these publications draw from distinct disciplinary perspectives, applying discipline-specific knowledge, and offering partial solutions or conclusions that respect and obey neat disciplinary lines.
This presentation will provide an overview of the issue of concussion in sport, with a focus on elite football in Australia and New Zealand. By viewing the topic in a broader interdisciplinary way, an opportunity exists to collaborate across disciplines to examine, understand and manage concussion in sport as a phenomenon that does not belong solely to a unitary disciplinary group, but rather is a blend of physical, social and cultural elements. By adopting a multi-focal view of concussion in sport, conversations and connections may lead to alternative interpretations of findings and solutions that transcend a single discipline, and lead to more sustainable outcomes for a broader range of stakeholders.
Original languageEnglish
Number of pages22
Publication statusPublished - 23 Oct 2014
EventAustralian and New Zealand Sports Law Association 24th Annual Conference - Intercontinental Hotel, Adelaide, Australia
Duration: 22 Oct 201424 Oct 2014
Conference number: 24th


ConferenceAustralian and New Zealand Sports Law Association 24th Annual Conference
Abbreviated titleANZSLA


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