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Potential link between heading football and brain injuries

  • Jun 2, 2016
  • EmmaArnold

The Football Association has agreed to examine the potential risks of brain injury caused by heading a football.

More research is to be carried out into whether there is a casual link between heading a ball and degenerative neurological conditions such as Alzheimer's.

This comes after three of England's World Cup 1966 squad revealed they have the disease at the 50th anniversary of the triumph.

Campaigners, including medical experts and families of the players diagnosed, are calling for urgent action to be taken.

The FA have now agreed to form a collaboration with the Footballers' Association to examine what research needs to be done into the potential risks.

Gary Herbert, Senior Solicitor at PotterReesDolan, said:

Our understanding of the causes of brain injury is increasing all of the time, and we have seen this reflected in the concussion protocols being implemented in rugby and football in recent years.

Whilst we have been aware, former players have sustained neurological illnesses following their retirement and it has never been clear whether these illnesses reflect the impact of their playing careers. Whilst it is clear that the equipment has changed significantly over the years, with lighter footballs replacing those used in the past, it is important that we continually research carefully whether all sports can be made safer – by the monitoring of players or equipment – to prevent neurological illnesses in the future. It is important that whilst the studies may well focus on the professional game, any research can ensure safer participation at school or in the amateur game.

As a frustrated footballer who has headed many wet muddy footballs on a Sunday morning, I am particularly interested to see the outcome of the research.

Headway, the brain injury charity, recently set up a campaign Concussion Aware to urge sports clubs to identify signs of concussion more effectively.

Make the pledge to be #ConcussionAware by visiting the official Concussion Aware campaign page.

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