Could female footballers face greater dementia risk?

Published by  Communications

On 25th Nov 2020

Female footballer heading football

Female footballers heading the ball could be putting themselves at even greater risk of dementia than male players according to experts at the University of East Anglia.

Dr Michael Grey is running a project to monitor ex-footballers for early signs of dementia.

More than 35 former professional players have now signed up including former Norwich City stars Iwan Roberts and Jeremy Goss, and Crystal Palace hero Mark Bright.

But the research team are urgently looking for amateur and professional female players to take part too.

Research from the University of Glasgow has shown that retired male players are around five times more likely to suffer from Alzheimer’s disease compared with the average person.

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

Dr Grey, from UEA’s School of Health Sciences, said: “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.

“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.

“But we don’t fully understand the impact these differences could have, so we are encouraging former amateur and professional female players to come forward to help us with our project.”

The 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.

Dr Grey said: “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 per year.

“We are tracking their brain health over time. And we hope to follow these footballers for many years to come.”

The project is among a number of pieces of work in the Concussion Action Programme, a research group within UEA Health and Social Care Partners.

Want to take part?

The research team are looking for former professional football players, both men and women, who are aged over 40 to take part in the study. Amateur footballers and active non-footballers aged over 40 can also take part.

The research will see a small group of participants coming into the lab, but the majority of the testing will be done online at home.

To take part, please visit www.scoresproject.org. To contact the team about the project, please email scoresproject@uea.ac.uk.

Could you help by making a donation?

UEA are seeking vital funding to support the next stages of this ambitious research.

To discuss a gift please get in touch with giving@uea.ac.uk, or donate online at https://www.justgiving.com/campaign/SCORES

Latest News

  News
23 Jul 2021

UEA part of £2.5 million study on links between overlapping long-term health conditions

The links between different long-term health conditions will be explored in new research funded with a £2.5 million grant from the Medical Research Council.

Read more >
  News
21 Jul 2021

The impact of climate change on Kenya's Tana River Basin

Many species within Kenya’s Tana River Basin will be unable to survive if global temperatures continue to rise as they are on track to do – according to new...

Read more >
  News
Jago Cooper
20 Jul 2021

Appointment of new Director of the Sainsbury Centre

UEA and the Board of the Sainsbury Centre have appointed Jago Cooper as the new Director of the Sainsbury Centre and Professor of Art and Archaeology, starting...

Read more >
  News
19 Jul 2021

Global satellite data shows clouds will amplify global heating

A new approach to analyse satellite measurements of Earth’s cloud cover reveals that clouds are very likely to enhance global heating, according to a new...

Read more >
Are you searching for something?
  News
19 Jul 2021

Global satellite data shows clouds will amplify global heating

A new approach to analyse satellite measurements of Earth’s cloud cover reveals that clouds are very likely to enhance global heating, according to a new...

Read more >
  News
19 Jul 2021

Novel coronavirus discovered in British bats

A coronavirus related to the virus that causes Covid-19 in humans has been found in UK horseshoe bats – according to new collaborative research from the...

Read more >
  News
Gabriella Revach delivering a tutoring session
14 Jul 2021

UEA students tutor pupils disadvantaged by the pandemic

Students from the University have been providing tutoring sessions to pupils from across Norfolk.

Read more >
  News
13 Jul 2021

July issue of UEA Chemistry Magazine out now

The July edition yoUr chEm mAg is now available

Read more >
  News
Test tube and swab
08 Jul 2021

New research training programme focused on major health challenges funded in Norwich

The University of East Anglia (UEA) is jointly hosting a new programme training researchers of the future to address major societal health challenges in...

Read more >
  News
08 Jul 2021

Broadcast Journalism Degree achieves industry recognition

The University’s new undergraduate degree course, Broadcast and Multimedia Journalism BA, has been awarded professional accreditation by the Broadcast Journalism...

Read more >
  News
07 Jul 2021

Atmospheric acidity impacts oceanic ecology

Increased acidity in the atmosphere is disrupting the ecological balance of the oceans, according to new research led by the University of East Anglia (UEA).

Read more >