Dementia Australia acknowledges former Rugby League player, Wally Lewis AM, and his family for speaking out publicly about his probable chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) diagnosis.
Wally Lewis was one of the stars of Rugby League in the 1980s and 90s, leading Queensland to victory in the State of Origin and playing in 33 Rugby League tests for Australia. His career has included the ‘Best Player in the World’ award and election to the Australian Sports Hall of Fame. Until recently he was a sports presenter and commentator for Channel 9.
Chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) is a type of dementia where repeated concussions or other head injuries can affect someone’s brain function over time, enough to interfere with their usual functioning or working life.
Dementia Australia CEO Maree McCabe AM said Mr Lewis and his family were to be commended for being willing to share their story in hopes it will help create greater awareness about CTE.
“On behalf of Dementia Australia, I thank and acknowledge Wally Lewis and his family for sharing their story and to raise awareness of the risks of chronic traumatic encephalopathy,” Ms McCabe said.
“When high profile people like Wally share their story, it helps everyone impacted or going through a similar experience to know they are not alone.
“Chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) is preventable.
“It can be avoided or minimised by preventing head injuries and managing head injuries and concussions effectively by following evidence-based, best practice guidelines.
“We need national guidelines for contact sports. Current protocols and practices for managing head injuries in a range of Australian sporting codes across all age groups and at amateur and professional levels, are not always guided by, or consistent with, current evidence-based findings.”
Ms McCabe said it was also important to note CTE is not only a condition that impacts the sporting community, but research shows family violence survivors and war veterans who experience traumatic brain injury were at an even higher risk of developing CTE.
“CTE can happen to anyone,” Ms McCabe said.
“It is incredible to see Wally sharing his story, shedding a light on CTE and I urge anyone who has any concerns about their brain health or that of a loved one to please call the National Dementia Helpline anytime on 1800 100 500 or visit dementia.org.au.”
Dementia Australia is the source of trusted information, education, and services for the estimated more than 400,000 Australians living with dementia, and the more than 1.5 million people involved in their care. We advocate for positive change and support vital research. We are here to support people impacted by dementia, and to enable them to live as well as possible. No matter how you are impacted by dementia or who you are, we are here for you.
For support, please contact the National Dementia Helpline on 1800 100 500. An interpreter service is available. The National Dementia Helpline is funded by the Australian Government. People looking for information can also visit dementia.org.au.