Scientists from the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York believe that footballers who regularly head the ball could be putting themselves at risk of long-term brain damage. They believe to have found compelling evidence of brain changes which can lead to problems with memory, attention, planning ability and even sight.
Those who head the ball more than around 1,000 times a year (which is the equivalent of 20 heads a week- not a lot really, when you consider training as well as games!) are those at risk.
American researchers scanned the brains of 32 amateur players, whose average age was 31, and who had all been playing regularly since childhood. All of them were asked how regularly they headed the ball. They found that those who headed the ball the most had more damaged nerve cells in the brain’s white matter.
Michael Lipton, of the college, said: “Repetitive heading could set off a cascade of responses that can lead to degeneration of brain cells.” He then added: “What we’ve shown here is compelling evidence that there are brain changes that look like traumatic brain injury as a result of heading a soccer ball frequently.”
Their research is to be presented to the Radiological Society of North America.
Written exclusively for The Life Dept | Live Longer | 29 November 2011.
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