Further evidence has emerged concerning a potential association between the practice of heading footballs and a heightened risk of long-term brain damage. This research is based on examination of the brains of small numbers of (mostly) professional footballers who went on to die from dementia, which appears to strengthen suspicions concerning the hypothetical link between the “heading” of heavy footballs repeatedly over time, subsequent occurrence of the brain injury called chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) and an increased risk of developing dementia at an unusually early age.
Further, more systematic, research is planned.
Football headers ‘linked to brain damage’. London: BBC Health News, February 15th 2017.
This relates to:
Ling, H., Morris, H.R., Neal, J.W. [et al] (2017). Mixed pathologies including chronic traumatic encephalopathy account for dementia in retired association football (soccer) players. Acta Neuropathologica. February 15th 2017. [Epub ahead of print].
The following NHS Choices Behind the Headlines critical appraisal provides a sense of due perspective, by discussing the inherent limitations in this type of research.
Heading footballs ‘linked to brain damage in professional players’. London: NHS Choices; Behind the Headlines, February 15th 2017.