Can you remember your parents encouraging you to participate in sport? How many of you chose the school football or rugby team? Startling information has arisen that may make you think twice about encouraging your children to do the same.
Reports out this week show new evidence that repeatedly heading a ball may be linked to long-term brain damage. Although small, the study of six players (5 professional, one serious amateur) found that they all developed Dementia in their 60s, some linked to Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE).
CTE is a degenerative brain disease, commonly found in athletes who have a history of repetitive brain trauma. It is well known that CTE is found in ex-boxers and upon post mortem, it was found that four of the footballer’s brains had similar changes.
The evidence is slightly tarred however, as the brains did also show signs of Alzheimer’s disease and blood vessel changes.
This comes as a slight blow to the future of British team sport as it studys findings from 2013 that there may be a link between repetitive head injuries and long-term problems in rugby.
There have been two key findings surrounding rugby:
- In younger players, repetitive concussions impact negatively on the way the brain functions. This is directly related to the regulation of blood flow in the brain.
- Looking at retired International players, it is believed that repetitive concussions impair the way the players remember and formulate ideas.
It has been concluded, that repetitive concussions accelerate brain ageing and increase the risks of Dementia.
Although these findings are scary, and potentially an inevitability for some sportsmen and women already competing, all hope is not lost. It could be argued that a football is now significantly lighter and made from synthetic materials, so the risk is reduced somewhat.
Governing bodies have come a long way in regulating the rules and practices surrounding contact sports and, with more research and improvements in technology, safety and player’s welfare is paramount.
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