Study to investigate link between football and dementia

Study aims to establish risk posed to young players

Study to investigate link between football and dementia

©INPHO/Tommy Dickson

UEFA is to launch a new research project investigating possible links between football and dementia, in order to establish the risks posed to young players during matches and training.

According to the Daily Telegraph, the UEFA investigation will count the number of times children head the ball, with over 1,000 children being filmed across two age ranges - eight-12 and 14-16.

The data is expected to be collected within the next five months and will be used to account for the number of headers by players in different positions on the field.

Academic research published this week suggests that repeatedly heading the ball during a football career, can lead to long-term brain damage.

Researchers from University College London and Cardiff University, examined the brains of six people who played football at either professional or amateur level over a career that averaged at 26 years.

All six went on to develop dementia in their 60s.

The postmortem examinations of those players revealed signs of a brain injury known as chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) in four cases. CTE has links with serious symptoms including memory loss, depression and dementia and has been linked to other physical sports such as boxing and rugby.

Each of the six brains that were assessed, also showed signs of Alzheimer's disease.

Although the research indicates worrying signs for the world of football, the researchers insist that this study alone is not definitive and are calling for larger investigations to be conducted into the long-term brain health of footballers.

UEFA says the project will be launched on Friday and at least one Premier League club is said to be involved. 

The Football Association (FA) says it supports the study and is understood to be consulting with medical experts to determine a framework for its own research.

You can read more about concussion and the effects of CTE by clicking here.