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Can heading a football cause brain injury?

Football injuries have become a frequent occurrence for players taking part in the modern game.

Many suffer broken bones or torn muscles as a result of a bad tackle which may allow them to make a personal injury claim.

As a general rule brain injuries are not seen as commonplace amongst footballers, however, recent studies have found that footballers that repeatedly head the football on a regular basis are putting themselves at risk of brain injury and can experience significant changes in brain function.

A study by the University of Sterling tested 19 footballers who were tasked with heading the ball 20 times from a machine simulating the force of a kick from a corner.

Increased inhibition in the brain was detected after just a single session of heading the ball, whilst the subject’s memory performance also decreased by up to 67%.

Cognitive neuroscientist Dr Magdalena Ietswaart said: “In light of growing concern about the effects of contact sport on brain health, we wanted to see if our brain reacts instantly to heading a football. Using a drill most amateur and professional teams would be familiar with, we found there was in fact increased inhibition in the brain immediately after heading and that performance on memory tests was reduced significantly.

“Although the changes were temporary, we believe they are significant to brain health, particularly if they happen over and over again as they do in football heading. With large numbers of people around the world participating in this sport, it is important that they are aware of what is happening inside the brain and the lasting effect this may have.”

It has already been proven that any impact to the head can potentially cause a degree of trauma to the brain, this is illustrated by those who are more at risk of suffering a brain injury such as motorcyclists, construction workers amongst others, are required by law to wear a protective helmet.

A turning point

Whilst at present, heading a football is not often spoken about as being a cause of brain injury, campaigns are beginning to establish themselves in order to raise awareness about the issue.

One such campaign was set up by Dawn Astle who is the daughter of former West Bromwich Albion centre-forward, Jeff Astle.

The former England and West Bromwich Albion player died at the age of 59 after suffering from early-onset dementia.

The coroner later established that the dementia was caused by heading footballs on a regular basis resulting him in establishing the cause of Jeff’s death as ‘industrial disease’.

The coroner also diagnosed Jeff with Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE), a disease which is often found in boxers, NFL players and rugby players who have passed away.

Dawn set up The Jeff Astle Foundation in order to raise awareness of the catastrophic effects of heading a football.

The study along with Jeff Astle’s case highlights just how damaging heading a football can be.

Claiming for a catastrophic brain injury

We understand that when someone suffers a brain injury it can have devastating consequences for both the victim and their friends and family.

While cases may vary, we realise that rehabilitation is essential in order to recover physically as well as helping you adapt to life at home.

Whether you believe you have suffered a brain injury as a result of heading a football or have suffered an accident that has left you with serious brain injuries, we can help.

Our serious injury team understand the complex nature of brain injury cases as well as the potential needs of victims.

Our head injury solicitors are specialists in identifying the long-term effects of brain injuries and we work with leading medical professionals to ensure that you are able to undertake the rehabilitation you need.

It’s hugely important to contact a solicitor who understands the complexities of a brain injury case as soon as possible after an accident.

If you’d like more information about how Thorneycroft Solicitors can help you with your claim or would like to discuss a potential claim, call us for free today on 0800 1979 345 or alternatively you can complete our online enquiry form and a member of our team will get back to you at a time that is more suitable.