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UEA research project focusses on former footballers’ brain health

I previously wrote about whether head injuries can cause dementia in an earlier blog: Traumatic Brain Injury and Dementia.

Although some studies have reported a causal link between traumatic brain injuries and dementia, the exact relationship between the two is not entirely conclusive.  However, in order to obtain further evidence on this subject, the University of East Anglia (UEA) has begun a research project testing former football players for early signs of the disease.

Their aim is to test the brain health of former players over a period of time to see if they can obtain evidence of neuro-degenerative symptoms before the more obvious symptoms such as memory problems and language start to surface.  This will be compared to a population of active individuals who have not taken part professionally in contact sports.  The types of testing will include examination of an individual’s attention, memory, cognitive skills and spacial navigation.

This research project is a further step in expanding our knowledge on the subject and comes on the heels of research by the University of Glasgow’s Brain Injury Group last year, which found that former professional footballers are three and a half times more likely to suffer from dementia and other serious neurological diseases.  It was unclear however what the exact cause of this increased link was due to – was it the increase in number of headers professionals footballers did compared to the general population, the increased chance of concussions during the sport or some other factor inherent in being a professional footballer?

Whilst the causal connection may not yet be conclusive, it is commendable that former professional footballer Iwan Roberts has signed up to take part in the project and is hoping to bring more awareness to the subject.  The project requires more ex-professional footballers to take part, as well as a comparison group of active adults over the age of 50.

Whilst we should always be cautious in accepting headline news as conclusive evidence, we will not increase our understanding and knowledge on the subject until further tests and research are carried out.

Rujina Hoque is a solicitor in the Adult Brain Injury team at Bolt Burdon Kemp.  If you feel you may have a claim or are enquiring on behalf of a loved one, contact Rujina free of charge and in confidence at  Alternatively, complete this form and one of the solicitors in the Adult Brain Injury team will contact you.  Find out more about the Adult Brain Injury Team.

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