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Author Topic: Could "Heading" the ball in football/soccer cause brain injury?  (Read 2072 times)

Offline evan_au

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There is some heated debate at the moment in the USA about dementia in American Football (gridiron) players, allegedly caused by repeated blows to the head when colliding with opposing players. The neurological symptoms seen at post-mortem are similar to boxers.

Does "heading" the ball in World Football (soccer) cause similar impacts, and will it produce early dementia in professional players or schoolchildren?

Is anyone doing any research on brain injury in soccer players? (Some American football players have accelerometers installed in their helmets to measure the frequency & severity of impacts; where would you place a similar sensor for soccer players?)

Should "heading" the ball be banned?


 

Offline alancalverd

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My colleagues have been researching early dementia caused by injury to the upper cervical area.

The hypothesis is that the lower regions of the brain, probably the corpus callosum, generate antibodies that are normally flushed away by pusatile motion of the cerebrospinal fluid. Misalignment of the atlo-axial junction measurably inhibits the flow and the antibodies damage parts of the brain and cranial nerves. We can demonstrate the problem with our upright MRI system, and it can be corrected by some very neat chiropractic manipulation.

They have published at least two spectacular cases, one of an American "football" player and one of an American soccer player with apparent premature Alzheimer's and Parkinson's in their 30's, both diagnosed and relieved to normal function by this procedure. I'm looking at a case of severe optic neuritis with similar anomalous onset.

The answer to the question may be less a matter of direct brain damage by concussion (which would be spectacular in onset and generally recoverable, as in a boxing knockout) but more a chronic and progressive malfunction due to vertebral displacement, for which a simple helmet offers no protection. If the epidemiology supports the general hypothesis, I would hope that young kids would be encouraged to play soccer with a light ball until they have developed neck muscles more like rugby forwards, and learn to head the ball actively (with taut muscles) rather than just "get in the way and hope".           

American "football" is a ridiculous waste of time anyway - slower than cricket and less exciting than bowls.
 

Offline RD

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« Last Edit: 08/11/2015 13:51:38 by RD »
 

Offline RD

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The hypothesis is that the lower regions of the brain, probably the corpus callosum, generate antibodies that are normally flushed away by pusatile motion of the cerebrospinal fluid ... corrected by some very neat chiropractic manipulation.

IMO one should view whatever chiropractors say with extreme scepticism : some claim they can flex the patient's skull with finger-tip pressure ... https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Craniosacral_therapy

Mr Universe could not deform adult human skull in that way,
 [ infants are another matter ]


http://www.quackwatch.com/01QuackeryRelatedTopics/cranial.html
« Last Edit: 09/11/2015 19:11:48 by RD »
 

Offline alancalverd

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I wondered when you would turn up, RD!
 

Offline RD

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My colleagues have been researching early dementia caused by injury to the upper cervical area ... The answer to the question may be less a matter of direct brain damage by concussion (which would be spectacular in onset and generally recoverable, as in a boxing knockout) ...

Repeated sub-concussive blows can have an accumulative effect ,
 see ... https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dementia_pugilistica

Their neck vertebrae may also be damaged by [thousands?] of impacts to the head, (along with their nose & teeth ), but it's the skull repeatedly hitting the brain which causes the damage, rather than the brain pathology somehow originating in the neck injury.
« Last Edit: 10/11/2015 03:56:54 by RD »
 

Offline alancalverd

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The question, and my response, referred to football injuries. Here, we are talking about far fewer impacts and, in the cases I mentioned, no detectable brain impact trauma (swelling, bleeding, etc) , just progressive neurological degeneration.

It may be time to review dementia pugilistica too. It's interesting that Mohammed Ali suffered early Parkinson's symptoms but was only ever floored twice (by Henry Cooper). We haven't had the appropriate tool (positional MRI with gated flow acquisition) for long. Thanks for the suggestion: I'll talk to the UK boxing authorities as soon as we get the next machine installed.
« Last Edit: 10/11/2015 09:30:18 by alancalverd »
 

Offline evan_au

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Offline Thebox

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Can a punch in the head cause brain injury?   Have you felt how hard a ball hits your head when it is coming at about 70 mph? 


Yes header a ball and it can cause injury because it is no different than being punched by a boxing glove,
 

Offline RD

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The question, and my response, referred to football injuries. Here, we are talking about far fewer impacts and, in the cases I mentioned, no detectable brain impact trauma (swelling, bleeding, etc) , just progressive neurological degeneration.

Does MRI have microscopic-resolution when applied to a living brain ?. If not, micro-vascular changes or demyelination could exist which would not be "detectable" on MRI.
« Last Edit: 10/11/2015 20:02:01 by RD »
 

Offline evan_au

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One effect of head injury could be to reduce the effectiveness of the blood-brain barrier.
- Could this allow unusual chemicals to appear in the blood after a game, allowing for a blood test assay of injury?
- Could this allow unusual chemicals or immune cells from the body to reach the brain, causing part of the injury mechanism?
 

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