Victim had plate in head after attack
Christiana Jones, Paddy Sweeney and Gabrielle Knowles, The West Australian Updated April 16, 2012, 3:00 am
Mandatory disclosure of previous injuries would drive people away from amateur sports, WA's peak medical body warned yesterday after the sudden death of a Perth footballer at the weekend.
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Australian Medical Association WA president Dave Mountain made the comment after the death of 21-year-old Josh Henderson sparked debate about whether more needed to be done to prevent on-field tragedies in amateur football.
Mr Henderson, who had a metal plate inserted above one eye after a nightclub attack in 2009, died on Saturday after a knock to the head during a C1 Reserves match for Mosman Park. The team was playing Thornlie on the first weekend of the amateur football season.
He died after his heart stopped despite efforts to save him, with police expected to provide a report for the WA Coroner.
It is not known whether the club had been aware of the extent of Mr Henderson's prior injuries, which occurred before he joined Mosman Park. His father said yesterday there had been no indication his son should not have been playing football as a result of the attack.
Among the outpouring of condolences yesterday were calls for better safety in the sport.
WA Institute of Sport medical director Carmel Goodman said that, in an "ideal world", mandatory questionnaires in which players had to disclose serious injuries and provide medical "clearance" or an opinion from their physician could minimise the risk of serious harm on the field.
But she said limited resources of small clubs meant the safeguard would be impractical and difficult to enforce. She also said it was difficult for doctors to predict the likelihood of on-field harm and impossible to guarantee against it.
"You could never ensure that there wouldn't be a subsequent head injury that could result in tragedy," she said.
Dr Mountain warned that mandated screening of pre-injuries and medical approval would turn common sense into a layer of bureaucracy that risked turning people off amateur sport.
"The last thing we need in our society at the moment is further disincentive to people being involved in physical activity," he said.
Dr Mountain said he believed amateur players were aware of the "inevitable" risk of "injuries and occasional tragedies". He noted that Australian Rules was among sports that had taken measures, such as the strengthened concussion rule, to enhance player safety.
He said suggestions that helmets should be worn clashed with research showing helmets led athletes to take greater risks.
'The last thing we need … is further disincentive to people being involved in physical activity.'" *Dr Dave Mountain *