Tags: soccer | brain damage | collisions | dementia

Soccer Brain Damage: Headers, Collisions Blamed

Image: Soccer Brain Damage: Headers, Collisions Blamed

Jermaine Jones #13 of the United States and Hector Herrera #16 of Mexico head the ball in the first half during the FIFA 2018 World Cup Qualifier at MAPFRE Stadium on Nov. 11, 2016, in Columbus, Ohio. (Jamie Sabau/Getty Images)

By    |   Thursday, 16 Feb 2017 08:36 AM

Soccer-connected brain damage from headers and collisions could be linked to players developing dementia later in life, according to tentative evidence in a study by British researchers released this week.

Scientists from the University College London and Cardiff University examined the brains of five former professional soccer players and one who had played in amateur competition all of his life, BBC News reported.

The study, which was published in the journal Acta Neuropathologica, initially looked at 14 retired soccer players with dementia who were referred to the Old Age Psychiatry Service in Swansea, Wales, from 1980 and 2010, a statement from the University College London said.

Family members of six of the former players granted permission for scientists to perform postmortem examinations, according to the university.

All six had played an average of 26 years, the BBC News reported. In four of the participants, scientists discovered signs of brain injury called chronic traumatic encephalopathy.

CTE, which has been connected to brain injuries to those playing in the NFL, has been linked to memory loss, depression, and dementia.

"This is the first time CTE has been confirmed in a group of retired footballers," Helen Ling, of the University College London's Institute of Neurology, said in a statement from the university. "Our findings of CTE in retired footballers suggest a potential link between playing football and the development of degenerative brain pathologies in later life.

"However, it is important to note that we only studied a small number of retired footballers with dementia and that we still do not know how common dementia is among footballers," Ling continued.

Dawn Astle, daughter of former English soccer star Jeff Astle who died at 59, who suffered from an early onset of dementia, said the game took its toll on her father, BBC News reported.

"At the coroner's inquest, football tried to sweep his death under a carpet," Astle told BBC Radio 5. "They didn't want to know, they didn't want to think that (soccer) could be a killer and sadly, it is. It can be."

The study's co-lead author Huw Morris, of the University College London, said in a statement that he suspects collisions may be more of a cause for brain damage than headers.

"The average footballer heads the ball thousands of times throughout their career, but this seldom causes noticeable neurological symptoms," Morris said in the university's statement. "More research is now urgently needed to determine the risks associated with playing football so that any necessary protective measures can be put in place to minimize potential long term damage."

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Soccer-connected brain damage from headers and collisions could be linked to players developing dementia later in life, according to tentative evidence in a study by British researchers released this week.
soccer, brain damage, collisions, dementia
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2017-36-16
Thursday, 16 Feb 2017 08:36 AM
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