The headers footballers win in the course of their career may come back to haunt them in their later years, a new study has shown.
This is following research conducted by the University College, London and Cardiff University, showing that that nodding heavy balls has caused dementia in footballers.
The research involved the examination of 6 people who played football for an average of 25 years. Post-mortem studies showed that all 6 developed dementia in their later years, with 4 developing chronic traumatic encephalopathy.
“Our findings suggest that there is a potential link between repetitive sub-concussive head impacts from playing football and the development of CTE,” said Helen Ling, a co-author of the study from Queen Square Brain Bank for Neurological Studies at the University College London Institute of Neurology.
“The most pressing question now to ask following up [on] this study would be how common dementia is among retired footballers,” said Ling. “If we can demonstrate that the risk is higher than the normal population that we will know we really need to urgently look at who is at risk and put protective strategy in place.”
Professor Huw Morris told the BBC: “When we examined their brains at autopsy we saw the sorts of changes that are seen in ex-boxers, the changes that are often associated with repeated brain injury which are known as CTE.”
“So really for the first time in a series of players we have shown that there is evidence that head injury has occurred earlier in their life which presumably has some impact on them developing dementia.”
One limitation of the study is that it didn’t take the player’s genetic history or lifestyle into consideration, factors which highly increase the risk of a player getting dementia.
The Football Association has already acknowledged the study, promising to conduct further investigations.