The five days has previously been a guideline, but under an AFL crackdown it has become a requirement and clubs will be fined if they don’t adhere to the policy.
Essentially, a player who is concussed on Saturday and wishes to play the next Saturday will need to be given the all-clear by a club doctor by Tuesday at the latest.
Another part of the existing policy states that players must have a 24-hour period before the test of showing no symptoms.
The AFL is deliberately making it more difficult for concussed players to take the field the next week.
Sporting leagues globally are focusing on ”return-to-play” process, to reduce the potential for long-term issues.
Medical sources have told The Age the number of concussion incidents in the AFL has remained steady for each season in the past 10 years.
The rate of players missing matches, however, is continuing to rise and the league, taking as safety-first approach, wants that trend to continue.
Concussion-cursed St Kilda forward Paddy McCartin caused a stir in a radio interview last year when he claimed players would “bludge” baseline concussion tests.
“The AFL’s done a good job in improving testing, but some of the stuff we do earlier in the season, baseline testing, these computer things and stuff like that, you can bludge your way through if you want to,” McCartin told SEN.
McCartin has managed just 35 games since being taken at pick one by the Saints in the 2014 national draft.
The comments – which disappointed high-level AFL officials and people at St Kilda – prompted the AFL to investigate.
One of the issues that continue to frustrate medical professionals in the game is the misunderstanding of the Scat test.
Contrary to common belief, the test isn’t conducted by club doctors to “pass” or “fail” players.
It’s simply a discretionary test on a player so the doctor can assess different domains of the brain and see if their answers reflect a “normal” response from that particular player.
Players – according to medical sources – can provide completely coherent answers to club medicos but then be stopped from playing if doctors believe their answers fall outside the normal range.
The AFL will also continue with a conservative policy of potentially over-diagnosing concussion.
Several incidents in games may be officially classified as concussion even if the injury was to do with something else, such as their balance.
Sam McClure won the Clinton Grybas rising star award at the AFL media association awards in 2015.