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Heading footballs

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Heading footballs

Wed 15 Feb 2017

Headway has reiterated its urgent calls for more research to be conducted into the possible implications of heading a football in the modern game. This follows a study by the UCL Queen Square Brain Bank linking heading old-style, heavy leather footballs and developing dementia in later life.

Peter McCabe, Chief Executive of Headway – the brain injury association, said: “Any study that helps us to better understand brain injury has to be looked at seriously.

“We have known for some time that there is a link between the cumulative effect of repeated blows to the head – such as those suffered by boxers – and degenerative neurological conditions such as dementia.

“The families of former footballers who played in the 1960s or 70s and who have gone on to develop neurological conditions deserve answers as to whether or not heading heavy leather footballs contributed to their conditions.

“Too little has been done to this point and questions should be asked of the football authorities regarding why they haven’t commissioned a large scale study to this point.

“However, it is important to exercise caution when interpreting the results of studies with such small sample sizes, particularly when it comes to any possible implications for modern day football.

“We urgently need more research – particularly research that has meaningful implications for today’s game.

“Until that time, we have to ensure we take a common sense approach to the issue of heading modern, lightweight footballs that doesn’t put people off from playing the sport.

“The focus should remain on ensuring everyone involved in the game is Concussion Aware and takes an ‘if in doubt, sit it out!’ approach to head injuries and concussion.”


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Headway - the brain injury association is registered with the Charity Commission for England and Wales (Charity no. 1025852) and the Office of the Scottish Regulator (Charity no. SC 039992). Headway is a company limited by guarantee, registered in England no. 2346893.

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