Dementia in. Football
Latest news is that Terry McDermott and Dennis Law both being diagnosed with Dementia.
Both great headers of the ball and it’s about time something was done to minimise risk to those youngsters starting out in the game
I wonder if any research has been done comparing the old leather balls used years ago and the modern lightweight ones used today. I would imagine that heading a wet leather ball does far more damage than the lightweight versions of today. There again the damage may not be weight related and perhaps more frequency based?
More unfortunate news:
How sad to hear! Alan's date of birth was 29 October 1937 (age 83). All the best for him and his family.
This needs more research, me thinks. I do not know if I need to be afraid as I am 60 now and still play football at least twice a week - often three times. As I am 6 ft 3 ins, I have always been good at heading the ball.
So it would be nice to know if it the weight of the old balls (luckily before my time) or the frequency.
Also my aunt-in-law suffered Dementia/Alzheimer's disease for over 10 years and passed away two years ago. She was born 1929. But she had never played the game - I suspect she had never touched a football!
Anyway, I have a match tomorrow. Still one month of the season left. I really enjoy it!
Up the Boro!
Sad news about Alan although I must confess I have known for some time because I used to meet up with him at every home game for a chat.
We were going to do an In2View but it never materialised for reasons which are now obvious.
He is a lovely guy and has some special memories especially of a England and the World Cup.
He was always evasive about his memories of playing and being a team mate of Brian Clough especially the round robin incident.
A wonderful host and friends of everyone. He was immensely proud that a new housing development opposite Stewart’s Park at Marton has named a road “Alan Peacock Way”
With respect of the root cause of dementia in footballers an exhaustive study is required regarding the heading of a football. It can be argued that older footballs were encased in leather and became sodden and leaden when raining or wet pitches. However a contra argument is that most modern coaches teach heading techniques to younger players to gain length, direction and increased velocity.
Most junior teams and coaches are aware of the link between heading the ball and dementia and restricting the practise to actual competitive games rather than training or practise matches.
I was never a great header of the ball which although I played at full back I decided to go and be a ref!
Whilst we have had a lot of comments about dementia in Football, it was
quite poignant to read recently that Middlesbrough legend Gary Pallister
admits he worries about dementia after suffering serious migraines during
and after his playing career.
Pallister who was of course a commanding centre-back for both Boro and
Manchester United during his playing career, and was an influential part of
Sir Alex Ferguson's early dominating Premier League side before returning to
Boro where he finished his career.
But as we have read on Diasboro after hearing about Alan Peacock, more and
more footballers are being diagnosed with dementia, and research from brain
injury specialist Professor Willie Stewart has found professional
footballers were three and a half times more likely to die of
neurodegenerative disease than age-matched members of the general
population, Pallister opened up in an interview admitting that he does fear
he could one day be diagnosed with dementia.
"I'm probably one of those who have stuck my head in the sand and thought,
'I hope it's not me'.
"I suffered awful migraines. I've been knocked clean out. I've been on the
pitch, woken up and not known where I am."
"You put it all together and you start thinking, 'Crikey, I'm a prime
candidate for dementia'.
"It's not a 100 per cent thing, I'm guessing, but you are thinking, If you
are a betting man, the odds are that you are probably at some time in your
life going to get it'."
"The migraines continued all through my career,"
"It's black and white for me now that football was one of the main reasons I
was probably getting them."
"I had to go into a darkened room. I started throwing up. I would lose my
speech. Get tingling on my arms. Lose my vision. Get blurred vision."
"It felt like I had a head full of seashells. Any movement caused pain. It
was a really weird feeling. It would wipe me out for two days."
While Pallister says his migraines are less frequent since his retirement,
the details are still disturbing as the whole of the football community
begins to open its eyes to the dangers that heading a football can do.
Pallister, 56, was speaking after taking part in a charity match at
Spennymoor Town last month organised by Head For Change that became the
first adults match in England to be played with restrictions on heading a
football in place. The Head for Change charity was founded by Doctor Judith
Gates whose husband Bill Gates was part of Boro's 1967 promotion-winning
campaign from the third to the second division and eventually made a
prosperous career outside football.
It is sad to read these things. How people who who spent their active years participating in sports that are now being seen to be significant contributors to the development of dementia. Over the years we have all been enthralled at the performances of people like Gary P., but in other sports too.... Rugby, Boxing...
In one sense it is perhaps a throw back to gladiatorial "competition" from Roman days. Granted the spectacle might have been more overtly horrific in the past, but there is still a sense that we get a thrill out watching people put themselves on the line for our entertainment as much as anything else.
The more we learn about the impact of repeated impacts to the head, there will come a time that we will have to expect and accept some changes to the lines of engagement. Will heading the ball eventually be outlawed in football. After all, it is "foot"ball and "hand"ball is already an offence, so why not ban heading the ball, or is the increased risk of dementia for participants a price worth paying for our entertainment?... not an opinion, just a genuine question.
I know there was a no-heading-allowed football match played recently somewhere near Boro to rise the awareness of the risks of heading.
But I would like to see a test match played by top professionals with the rule. Like playing the Community Shield match at Wembley with the rule as suggested by @powmillnaemore. So heading forbidden as we have using a hand as an offence.
Wouldn't it be facinating to see how a match changes?
I like heading as it has been my asset ever since practising it a lot with my brothers as a kid. As I am a 6 feet 3 inch tall defender, I have used the heading ability somewhat.
Anyway, I would like to see a professional match as a test.
Up the Boro!
I wonder if the effects caused by today's balls are lesser or greater than those old rain sodden leather balls?
My logic is that modern balls are so lightweight surely the impact would be less but conversely the speed is far greater.
They still hurt !
I remember reffing a game and took a belt in the head full force when I got in the way of a clearance. Just managed to blow the whistle to stop the game before going flat out on the pitch for a couple of minutes!
So it still hurts even in the modern game! Perhaps Jarkko can advise his thoughts?
Normally, causes of illnesses can be due to multiple factors and I was pondering yesterday if perhaps as well as the physical blows to the head, the heavy drinking culture that was prevalent in football exacerbated the damage.
Anyway, after a bit of Googling, I came across a study that was looking into the effects of dehydration on the brain. One of the papers referenced supported the following point: If changes in brain structure such as shrinkage occur following dehydration, there are important implications for sporting events such as boxing where dehydration might increase the likelihood of brain damage after blows to the head [Carnall and Warden, 1995; Dickson et al., 2005].
So I would hypothesise that it's quite possible the drinking culture in football may have meant some players may have either played or trained while suffering from the dehydrating effects of a heavy night - in which case the blows to the brain from heading the ball could have been magnified as they were in boxing. Though in the boxing example, the boxers would often deliberately dehydrate themselves before a fight in order to make the weight.
Still no doubt the number of times footballers will head a ball in their career will ultimately lead to some damage. Our genes and physical constitution make us all slightly different and it is probably also a factor in whether one person ends up with dementia from heading a ball compared to another who doesn't show signs following a comparable career.
It's really not normal in everyday life to have an object hitting your head at speed - especially nearly every day for the best part of 20 years. I recalled seeing Tyrone Mings in yesterday's England game head a ball over 50 yards when returning a clearance - it made me wince just watching it!
There seems to have been far too many ex-footballers suffering dementia for it to be just coincidence - sadly for most the damage has already been done and it's really now up to the authorities to ensure the next generation don't face the same illness. They can't use the excuse of ignorance as was the case 20-30 years ago - not acting now would be negligent.
I think the balls are better now. My friend, who is five year older and played on a high level as a junior, still remembers the old balls where the valve was hidden behind laces. The brown leather balls were really heavy he refers to.
And when the old ball got wet it was heavy like a stone! I often wonder about the weight of the ball when the Charlton brothers played ...
The problem of modern day football is the speed of the play. I mean movement of the players. They hit each others much more often than in the past. Clash of heads is so much more common now a days than in the past. And they are unconscious quite often - for a short time or sometimes longer.
As ever, there is not just one cause for a damage. It might be much more complecated prosess and definately needs more research. But FIFA should have money to do that. But if they want to do that is a different story. Are they genuinely interested in players or only money?
Up the Boro!