Concussion experts hope St Kilda great Danny Frawley's chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) diagnosis will prompt more AFL players to become involved in concussion research during and after their careers.
Frawley's widow Anita said an analysis of the former Richmond coach's brain, following his death in a car crash in September 2019, had shown signs of Stage II CTE.
CTE is a degenerative condition related to concussion and brain trauma, which currently can only be diagnosed post-mortem.
The Victorian coroner is yet to release the official report into Frawley's death but Anita Frawley told News Corp she had wanted to speak out to drive research that could help "diagnose and assist people living with the disease."
Associate Professor Alan Pearce, the Australian Sports Brain Bank's research manager in Victoria, hoped Frawley's story would drive interest but acknowledged players could also be scared of coming forward.
"Hopefully in the coming days and weeks we'll get some interest and enquiries but at the same time, I guess the concern is that (for) players ... it is a scary topic," Pearce told AAP.
"So for many people it's about not wanting to know, sometimes.
"So what we're trying to do is get the research to help those who are still living - it's not just a diagnosis after death - so we can then try and look at what's happening in people who are still living today.
"Can we then develop treatments, can we develop rehabilitation - the same as way we now understand stroke or Parkinson's Disease or even Alzheimer's?
"... That's the sort of stuff that we need but we can't do it without people coming forward and helping us do the research."
Pearce said ideally former players would undergo regular testing every couple of years to "build up a clinical picture" that could be assessed for changes over time.
For current players, testing would be about providing doctors with "objective markers" to refer to after concussions and help determine when players could return to play.
As the majority of research volunteers had experienced symptoms like depression, mood swings and memory loss, Pearce hoped to attract more ex-athletes who didn't have ongoing issues.
He hoped more funding would help to improve imaging technology and allow the development of support groups and education programs.
The AFL confirmed on Tuesday it had been notified of Frawley's diagnosis earlier this year.
Chief executive Gillon McLachlan cited "strengthened" match day and return-to-play protocols - along with rule and tribunal changes that emphasised protecting the head - among positive changes to the league's approach to concussions.
"Anita has been really clear that she wants the learnings from Danny's death to continue to provide a benefit to sport," McLachlan said.
"We will continue to work with Anita and the family and researchers to learn as much as we can and to continue to make whatever changes are necessary to keep the people who play our game safe."