Children at risk of brain damage from heading footballs

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Screen Shot 2017-02-14 at 4.41.02 PM In a study set to be unveiled this week, British scientists who looked into the autopsies of six returned professional sportsman with dementia discovered the disease was one associated with contact to the head. Evidence of a progressive degenerative disease known as chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), mostly seen in people who box, was also found. These findings come after research conducted by University of Stirling in 2016, which saw 19 footballers head a football 20 times; mimicking the move they’d do if receiving a corner kick. Their brain function was monitored with a memory test before and after, with performance reduced between a concerning 41 and 67 per cent after the headers. Although memory went back to normal within 24 hours, repeated heading could lead to long term damage. Players who headed the ball a lot were three times more at risk of suffering from symptoms of concussion, such as headaches and confusion, than those who didn't. More worryingly, if the player hits the ball with their head again while concussed, more serious damage can be caused. As children’s brains are still developing it is vital that they avoid such a move to protect themselves, as well as their necks as the muscle is still strengthening and is less able to take the force of the ball’s impact. “If there is mild concussion, a player might not realise it. If they then suffer another blow in quick succession, it could lead to brain injury,” says Dr. Nicholas Davies, a neurologist. “A header is like a punch to the head,” added Dr. Tom Crisp, a sports and exercise medicine expert. © Cover Media

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