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Football players past and present need more support and education on dementia

A solicitor who has represented people suffering from brain injuries has backed the call from ex-footballers for the authorities to establish a fund to support former players who are suffering from neurodegenerative disease, including dementia.

Posted on 24 August 2021

The call has come from campaign group Head for Change and has been supported by high profile ex-professional players including Gary Lineker and former Leeds and Sheffield United forward Brian Deane.
 
The link between repeated heading of a football and dementia has been highlighted over recent years, as well as the link between neurological injuries and other professional sports. Co-founder of Head for Change, former Wales rugby international Alix Popham, was diagnosed with early-onset dementia earlier this year. Former footballers Denis Law and Terry McDermott have also publicly confirmed their dementia diagnoses.
 
The Press Association has reported that Head for Change is calling for the authorities to work on research to help those retired sports players who may have already incurred traumatic brain injuries during their careers to maintain and protect their brain health in later life. The group also wants better education of current and future players on the prevention of such injuries. 
 
Earlier this month the football authorities were criticised for not taking a stronger interest in the issue in a report by the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport committee of MPs. The report concluded that the authorities should have done more following the coroner’s verdict on former West Brom and England striker Jeff Astle in 2002. The inquest conclusion found that his death was caused by chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) owing to repeated heading of a ball.
 
Tina Patel, solicitor in the personal injury team at Leigh Day, said:
 
“We welcome this call for more research and support for those who may have already incurred a traumatic brain injury during their careers, and to help highlight the dangers to future and current players. The world of professional football generates huge amounts of money and some of that must be used to protect the health of past, present and future players.”

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Tina Patel
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Tina Patel

Tina Patel is an associate solicitor in the consumer law team.

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