SCORES - Dementia Research

Can football cause dementia?

Dementia is a relatively common yet devastating condition that prevents the brain from functioning normally, and which can have life-changing effects on thinking, memory and behaviour. There are over 850,000 people living with dementia in the UK today.

Research has shown that former professional footballers are five times as likely to suffer from Alzheimer’s. This is thought to be due to repeated heading of the ball causing damage to the brain over time.

But little is known about exactly when players start to show signs of the disease and even less about the effects in women as the majority of research has focussed on men.

SCORES - Screening Cognitive Outcomes after Repetitive head impact Exposure in Sport

Now scientists at UEA aim to discover if and when players begin to show very early signs of the disease, and how it progresses. UEA’s health researchers, as part of the SCORES project, will use online brain assessments and MRI scans to detect very early signs of dementia in ex-pro football players; signs that are identifiable long before the classic signs of dementia, maybe even years earlier.

Researchers will study men and women, aged 50 and over, and compare their brain health results to active non-footballers of the same age. This project is the first of its kind anywhere in the world.

Former players in the Eastern region will be the first to take part in the study, which is being backed by former Norwich City Football Club striker Iwan Roberts, who played more than 600 games for club and country.

Can you help us score one against dementia?

Our goal is to raise £100,000 to help fund the pilot study in 2020, and £1 million in total to roll out the study nationally by 2025.

Could you make a gift today to help us carry out this vital research?

If you’d like to find out more, or want to make a larger gift toward the £1m project – please contact the Development Office at giving@uea.ac.uk.

Interested in taking part in the study? Visit www.scoresproject.org