Dementia in football: New study launched to investigate ways to reduce risk in ex-football players

Jeff Astle
The investigation into the death of former West Brom striker Jeff Astle found that the head heavy leather footballs had repeatedly contributed to trauma in his brain

A new dementia study has been launched to investigate ways to reduce the risk of the disease in former footballers.

The study will be led by Dr. Willie Stewart, whose previous research showed that former professionals are three and a half times more likely to die of dementia than the general population.

The new £ 1.3 million BrainHOPE study will build on this research.

It is jointly funded by the FA and Fifa and will recruit 120 former professional footballers aged 40-59.

“This is an incredibly important study and we are grateful to the FA and Fifa for their support in continuing it,” said Stewart, a consultant neuropathologist at the University of Glasgow.

“Our results from the FIELD study show that there is reason to worry about lifelong brain health in former footballers. BrainHOPE is designed to identify tests that can detect problems early and, more importantly, possible ways to try to reduce the risk of dementia for former footballers. “

The study will use brain imaging and tests to compare the brain health of former football players with 700 controls from the general population.

It will also look at whether any differences in brain health would benefit from dealing with known dementia risk factors.

The FIELD investigation began after allegations that former West Brom striker Jeff Astle died due to repeated head trauma.

Experts investigated the fear that heading the ball could be linked to brain damage.

New guidelines released in July last year said professional footballers in England should be limited to 10 “higher force headers” per week in training from the 2021-22 season.

In August, new research showed that defensive players are more likely to have dementia later in life compared to other playing positions in football.

Earlier this year, a dedicated care department for former players living with neurodegenerative disease (NDD) was created by the Professional Footballers’ Association.

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