Female footballers may be in more danger of suffering from dementia than men as top neuroscientist calls for more women to take part in new study on the disease
- Female footballers could be at a higher risk of dementia than male players
- Dr Michael Grey is monitoring retired players for early signs of the disease
- So far, 35 male ex-professionals have signed up to Dr Grey’s project
- He fears women may be at greater risk and needs female volunteers for his study
Female footballers could be at a higher risk of dementia than their male counterparts, say university experts.
Neuroscientist Dr Michael Grey is leading a project which is monitoring retired players for early signs of the disease. So far, 35 male ex-professionals have signed up, including former Norwich City pair Iwan Roberts and Jeremy Goss and former Crystal Palace striker Mark Bright.
Dr Grey, from the University of East Anglia, is now seeking former amateur and professional women players — and believes that they may be at a greater risk.
Female footballers could be at a higher risk of dementia than their male counterparts
Neuroscientist Dr Michael Grey, from the University of East Anglia, is leading a project which is monitoring retired players for early signs of the disease
‘We know that there is greater risk of dementia in former professional footballers, and we think this is related to repetitive heading of the ball,’ he said.
‘We know very little about how this affects female players, but we think female players are at even greater risk of developing sport-related dementia than male players.
‘We know there are physical and physiological differences between male and female players and this could be important when it comes to the impact of repeatedly heading the ball.’
Dr Grey pointed to other factors which cause concern regarding women footballers. ‘We know that female players experience concussion to a wider extent,’ he explained. ‘And although women live longer, 61 per cent of people who have dementia in the country right now are women. One of the issues is neck strength. Men with bigger, thicker necks are less likely to have that brain-wobbling inside the cranium.’
Research carried out by Dr Willie Stewart at the University of Glasgow found that footballers were three-and-a-half times more likely to die from a neuro-degenerative disease than the wider population.
Former Crystal Palace striker Mark Bright (left) has signed up to Dr Grey’s project
Now Dr Grey, the lead researcher, who continues to seek funding for his study, says his team will use cutting-edge technology to test for early signs of cognitive decline in men and women, that are identifiable long before any memory problems or other noticeable symptoms become apparent.
He added: ‘We have already signed up more than 35 professional male players but we have very few women footballers in the study so far.
‘We are looking for women and men over 40, who live in the UK and do not have a diagnosis of dementia.
‘Testing is conducted on a computer or tablet from the comfort of their own homes and takes around 30 minutes, four times a year. We are tracking their brain health over time. And we hope to follow these footballers for many years to come.’
To take part, please visit www.scoresproject.org
To contact the team about the project, please email: [email protected]
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