Credit: Kenny Webster via Unsplash

New study led by UofG to look into football and dementia

By Jamie McGuire

After a study, last year by the University that found footballers are three and half times more likely to die of dementia a new study in conjunction with the PFA will delve into this relationship.

PFA Scotland has given the green light for research to be conducted on former footballers to distinguish the correlation between playing football and developing dementia. The study by PREVENT dementia will aim to explore all the risk factors associated between the two to ensure in the future that the syndrome can be prevented. The research will be carried out by the Universities of Edinburgh and Glasgow with close collaboration between PFA Scotland.

The study will be interviewing former footballers in the 40-50 age group where they will be asked to take a variety of tests which should allow the researchers to unearth the link between playing football and the damage to the brain’s health. PREVENT will also consider extraneous variables that could contribute to dementia, such as the footballer’s social life and investigate if their lifestyle contributes to poor brain health. The aim is to find potential causes and put the measures in place that will prevent dementia from being common in future generations of players.

Professor William Stewart, Honorary professor at the University of Glasgow and co-investigator in the PREVENT study and academic lead of its contact sports work stream, stated: “Our field study identified former professional footballers as a population at high risk of dementia and related conditions. The next challenge, which we hope to begin to address as part of this new arm of the PREVENT Dementia study, is to understand why this is the case and whether we might be able to detect changes in brain health that would allow us to better target potential treatments to reduce their risk.”

The researchers carrying out the PREVENT dementia study hope they can develop a breakthrough on the correlation between dementia and playing football, so the condition does not debilitate the upcoming cohort of footballers.


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