Heading footballs ‘affects memory’

Heading a football can significantly affect a player’s brain function and memory for 24 hours, a study has found.

Researchers said they had identified “small but significant changes in brain function” after players headed the ball 20 times.

Memory performance was reduced by between 41% and 67% following the routine heading practice, with the effects wearing off after 24 hours.

The University of Stirling study was published in EBioMedicine.

It is the first to detect direct changes in the brain after players were exposed to everyday head impacts, as opposed to clinical brain injuries like concussion.

Dr Angus Hunter, reader in exercise physiology, added: “For the first time, sporting bodies and members of the public can see clear evidence of the risks associated with repetitive impact caused by heading a football.

“We hope these findings will open up new approaches for detecting, monitoring and preventing cumulative brain injuries in sport. We need to safeguard the long-term health of football players at all levels, as well as individuals involved in other contact sports.”

STORY BY BBC NEWS