The risk of dementia among footballers is linked to the position of the players and the length of their career

A new study finds that professional footballers are up to five times more likely to develop dementia in their lifetimes, due to impact between their head and the ball. The position held in the field and the length of the career were identified as particularly important risk factors.

Thus, for goalkeepers, the risk of neurodegenerative disease was similar to that of the general population, indique The Independent. But for other players the possibility of developing the disease was almost four times higher, and for defenders the risk was increased fivefold.

For Professor William Stewart of the University of Glasgow, who conducted the research, the problem facing players can no longer be ignored. He invites the governing bodies of football to quickly examine the possibility of eliminating the use of the head in amateur matches, as well as to add a warning notice on the packaging of football equipment.

“Is exposure to the risk of dementia necessary for gambling?”

“Is head-turning absolutely necessary in football?, asks Professor Stewart. Is exposure to the risk of dementia absolutely necessary for gambling? We are about to suggest that the balloons be sold with a warning … We cannot ignore that. “ The study, carried out by the Field (Football’s Influence on Lifelong health and Dementia risk) and published on August 2 in the journal JAMA Neurology, analyzed the medical records of nearly 8,000 former professional footballers, over the age of 40 and born between 1900 and 1976.

The research team compared data on hospitalizations, prescriptions for dementia and causes of death among former professionals, with those of more than 23,000 people. During the study’s follow-up period, 5% of former gamers suffered from neurodegenerative disease, compared to 1.6% in the control group. Scientists also found that the number of diagnoses increased with the length of the career, going from a risk multiplied by two to a risk multiplied by five.

Despite developments in technology and in the management of head trauma, there is no evidence that the risk of neurodegeneration in footballers has decreased over time. Professor Stewart explains that balloons are now lighter, but it also means that they move faster in the air. Since the force of the impact is mainly related to the speed, the consequences of a blow on the brain are not drastically different.

“We have to think about the return of the players after an injury, continues William Stewart, who is concerned about the care and support provided to athletes after a head injury. This study confirms that the more one is exposed to light but repeated shocks, the more the risk increases. Tens of thousands of small impacts undoubtedly contribute to some form of risk. ”

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