New £1.3m dementia study to include Premier League generation of players

The primary technology of Premier League gamers are amongst these being urged to volunteer for a groundbreaking new £1.3 million analysis challenge that may search to scale back their dementia threat

Led by Professor Willie Stewart, the neuropathologist who proved soccer’s dementia hyperlink, the examine would be the first that actively makes an attempt mid-life interventions to scale back risks for a inhabitants group which is at a considerably elevated threat.

Following a marketing campaign by Telegraph Sport, Prof Stewart’s workforce on the College of Glasgow discovered that former soccer gamers have been 3.5 instances extra prone to die of dementia than the broader inhabitants. The danger of neurological illness was additionally considerably larger amongst outfield gamers, significantly these defenders who often headed the ball.

Though there was an enormous give attention to affected gamers from the Sixties, notably England’s World Cup-winning squad, there was no drop-off in dementia charges since soccer stopped utilizing leather-based balls. It has all prompted Prof Stewart to name on soccer authorities to introduce heading limits, and contemplate outlawing heading utterly, but in addition discover proactive measures for lately retired gamers.

The brand new ‘BrainHOPE’ examine, which will likely be collectively funded by the Soccer Affiliation and Fifa, and contain collaboration between Imperial School London and Universities in Glasgow and Edinburgh, will final 4 years.

Researchers will use mind imaging amongst a spread of assessments to check mind well being in mid-life former footballers to the overall inhabitants and can recruit 120 former gamers.

Premier League report goalscorer Alan Shearer and England supervisor Gareth Southgate are amongst these former gamers who’ve beforehand volunteered for mind analysis.

In addition to finding out the footballers’ brains, consultants may also discover whether or not variations in neurological well being amongst footballers would possibly profit from administration of identified dementia threat components. The effectiveness of those interventions will then be explored, with mind scans and assessments repeated once more after two years.

“Our findings show there is reason to worry about lifelong brain health in former footballers,” mentioned Prof Stewart. “BrainHOPE is designed to identify tests that might detect problems early on and, more importantly, possible ways to try and reduce dementia risk for former footballers.”

Prof Craig Ritchie, who will collectively lead the challenge, mentioned that the challenge will “have a great impact on the wellbeing of current and retired players”.

The FA have been criticised over their failure to affix the Skilled Footballers’ Affiliation in a proposed care fund for former gamers.

They’ve, nevertheless, co-funded main analysis and launched coaching heading limits that apply throughout each the skilled and beginner sport. Charlotte Cowie, their head of efficiency drugs, described the brand new examine as “another important step”.

Prof Stewart’s workforce in Glasgow additionally carry out examinations on the brains of diseased former gamers and have discovered power traumatic encephalopathy, a sort of dementia linked to repetitive head impacts, in a excessive proportion of former gamers, together with former England internationals Nobby Stiles and Jeff Astle.

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