Home news Dementia and football: brain injury study to begin in January

Dementia and football: brain injury study to begin in January


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A long-awaited study into the links between heading a football and brain damage will start in January, the Football Association has announced.The doctor who claimed former striker Jeff Astle died because of repeated head trauma is to lead the study.Dr Willie Stewart says his report would aim to “provide some understanding of the long-term health impact of football within the next two to three years”.

It will be titled ‘Football’s Influence on Lifelong Health and Dementia Risk’.Dr Stewart was appointed by the FA and Professional Footballers’ Association (PFA), who had invited applications for independent research in March.’Urgent need’ for football header researchJeff Astle’s daughter: Dad’s job killed himPFA wants ban on heading for under-11sHe said: “In the past decade there have been growing concerns around perceived increased risk of dementia through participation in contact sports, however, research data to support and quantify this risk have been lacking.”PFA chief executive Gordon Taylor added: “Neurological problems in later life which may be connected to concussion, head injuries and heading the ball have been on our agenda for the last 20 years.”In the recent BBC documentary Alan Shearer: Dementia, Football and Me, the former England captain highlighted the case of Astle, the West Brom and England player who developed dementia and died in 2002 at the age of 59.The inquest into Astle’s death in 2002 found that repeatedly heading heavy leather footballs had contributed to trauma to his brain.After the inquest, research was commissioned by the FA and the PFA but it was later dropped because of what were said to be technical flaws.Astle’s family has campaigned for the football authorities to launch a comprehensive research programme.

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FA chief executive Martin Glenn said the new research “will be one the most comprehensive studies ever commissioned into the long-term health of former footballers”.He added: “Dementia can have a devastating effect and, as the governing body of English football, we felt compelled to commission a significant new study in order to fully understand if there are any potential risks associated with playing the game.”
Source: BBC Black Country