There is always a lot at stake for most football fans watching the beautiful game. With so much tension and anxiety, it doesn’t matter how the goal comes. Whether it is a headed goal or any other type of goal, all that matters is that the ball crosses the goal line.
Sadly, while football fans celebrate, the actors on the field of play who regularly head the football in aerial duels stand the risk of incurring significant damage to the brain.
When a former England and West Brom striker Jeff Astle, died at the age of 59 from an early onset of dementia, an investigation into his death revealed that heading heavy leather footballs had contributed to his brain trauma.
The late footballer’s daughter, Dawn Astle, accused the football world of trying to cover up the true cause of his death. She minced no words in explaining that “football is a killer”!
Neuropathologists at the University College, London, used ex-footballers to conduct a study that showed a correlation between continuously heading the football over a long period of time and dementia at middle age.
In a sample of 14 former players that died after being diagnosed of dementia, autopsy on the brains of six of them revealed heightened levels of protein related to Alzheimer’s dementia, with four other examined brains showing symptoms of Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE).
The submission of Prof Huw Morris of University College London also corroborated what studies had shown. Morris even likened those former footballers’ brains on which autopsy was carried on to that of former boxers!
But in stark contrast to popular belief, Dr David Reynolds, at the charity Alzheimer’s Research United Kingdom (UK) believes that dementia is caused by a number of different factors like age, genetic factors, and lifestyle.
He argued that the gains of exercises and active sports are far more than the dangers therein.
Nonetheless, after many studies and submissions, Dr. Charlotte Cowie of the United Kingdom Football Association said they were ready to support research in order to determine if degenerative brain disease is more prevalent in former footballers or not.
He, however, warned that any such research must be carefully undertaken in order to ensure confidence in the result of such findings going forward.
It is the hope of everyone concerned that a thorough investigation is done into this rising concern so that ex-footballers can retire and still make something useful of their lives, rather than retiring and then facing a gloomy future in the hospitals and care homes.
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