Thursday, 2 February, 2023

World Cup in brief

Footballers’ brains likely to decline after 65

Footballers are more likely to develop worse brain health beyond the age of 65 than the population at large, according to a study published Friday.

The SCORES project, based at the University of East Anglia in eastern England, uses online systems to assess individuals' cognitive function and monitor brain health decline.

The project involves 145 professional footballers, including former Crystal Palace striker Mark Bright and the ex-Norwich duo of Jeremy Goss and Iwan Roberts.

While it found footballers in the 40-50 age group were performing better in the assessments than the general population, this did not hold true as they aged.

The SCORES report data follows research by the FIELD study at Glasgow University, which found footballers were three-and-a-half times more likely to die of neurodegenerative disease than similarly aged members of the population.

That research also led to renewed calls for greater protection for players from concussion and the long-term impact of repeatedly heading a football.

And while the physical exercise associated with being a footballer helped players with their brain health in the years soon after their retirement, that benefit lessened over time.

"When they get to 65 -- that's when things are starting to go wrong," said lead SCORES researcher Dr Michael Grey.

"The over-65s performed worse when assessed for things like reaction time, executive function, and spatial navigation. These are early warning signs for deteriorating brain health."