A closer look at football’s link with dementia

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The risk of footballers developing dementia is back in the spotlight.

Here, the PA news agency looks at the issue in greater detail.

– Why is this being debated again now?

– What do we know about the link between dementia and football?

  • Five times more likely to die of Alzheimer’s.
  • Four times more likely to die of motor neurone disease.
  • Twice as likely to die of Parkinson’s disease.

Another study, conducted at Loughborough University, studied the impact of current and historic footballs on players’ heads. It found that when a leather ball is wet, it can weigh up to 40 per cent more than a dry ball, and the resultant impact force is significantly higher than a dry leather or modern ball.

– What don’t we know?

The Football Association and the Professional Footballers’ Association, who co-funded the FIELD study, say the next job for its research task force is to establish why there is an increased risk to footballers of developing dementia.

– Isn’t it to do with the impact of repeated heading and concussion?

He told PA earlier this year: “Exposure to head injury and head impact is the one thing that stands through.

“Now there may be other things we haven’t yet recognised, but Lord knows we’ve been working hard to identify them and we haven’t yet identified them.”

– What is he and others calling for?

Prof Stewart believes guidelines for coaches to limit heading in training, which were brought in for primary school children in England, Northern Ireland and Scotland in February of this year, should be extended to the adult and professional level. Former players Gary Lineker and Chris Sutton are also in favour of doing this.

FIFPRO favours the introduction of a 10-minute assessment period for players suffering suspected concussion and allowing teams to use a temporary concussion substitute while that takes place. World governing body FIFA and the FA favour sticking with the three-minute assessment period, but are keen to trial allowing additional permanent substitutions where concussion is suspected.

The football and technical advisory panels of the game’s lawmakers, the International Football Association Board, is set to discuss concussion substitutes on Monday, with a view to trials taking place next year.

– What further research is going on?

Iwan Roberts is a volunteer for the SCORES Project
Iwan Roberts is a volunteer for the SCORES Project (Martin Rickett/PA)

– Ex-NFL players sued their league over brain injuries. What’s the legal situation here?

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