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Study indicates soccer could cause brain injury to players

Brain damage suffered while playing a sport is most frequently associated with contact sports like football. Other sports with hard hits and unforgiving surfaces like ice hockey are also linked with traumatic brain injury. One sport that does not often lend itself to perceptions of risk of head injury is soccer. However, a new study is showing former players have had chronic traumatic encephalopathy. While football is king in Pennsylvania, those who play soccer also need to be concerned about brain injuries suffered while playing with symptoms arising incrementally.

Soccer has had questions surrounding it about its risk since a former British player died 2002 at age 59 and suffered from dementia. That particular player's prominent skill was "heading" the ball and he received a CTE diagnosis after he died. CTE can only be determined postmortem. The foundation in the player's name says that the number of former professional soccer players who have a brain issue has risen to more than 250. Prior to the publication of the study, four players were publicly known as having CTE. After the study, it was found that 12 of 14 players studied had dementia.

Those who were examined in the study had been professional players with one also playing consistently as an amateur for an average of 26 years. The average age at which dementia started was 63. While certain brain conditions like Alzheimer's begin to present themselves when a person is in his or her 60s, the researchers are wondering if CTE might have aggravated the Alzheimer's found in these players. Since the players were not diagnosed as having concussions while they were playing, there is the belief that continued blows to the head from heading the ball or colliding with other players might have been a factor.

People who are exhibiting signs of traumatic brain injury after having played soccer might not realize that there is a correlation between the two. Soccer players are not watched as closely as football players to scan for signs of a head injury. With this new information and the concern that brain injuries can result in permanent disability and other problems, it is something for former soccer players to think about. If there is a belief that coaches and administrators were negligent in their handling of people who might have suffered a brain injury while playing soccer, there might be the basis for a legal filing. Discussing the matter with an attorney experienced in traumatic brain injury can provide advice on how to proceed.

Source: cnn.com, "CTE found in former soccer players, study shows," Meera Senthilingam, Nadia Kounang, Feb. 15, 2017

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