UK parliamentary inquiry into link between sport and long-term brain injury

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A UK parliamentary inquiry into the link between sport and long-term brain injury has been launched, reports The Independent. MPs on the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport committee will call witnesses to examine the issue.

The report says it comes at a time when legal actions across football and both rugby codes are being considered or have been launched, and follows the 2019 FIELD study which found professional footballers were three and a half times more likely to die of neurodegenerative disease than age-matched members of the population.

England 1966 World Cup winner Sir Bobby Charlton’s dementia diagnosis was confirmed last year, with four other members of the side – Nobby Stiles, Jack Charlton, Martin Peters and Ray Wilson suffering with dementia at the time of their deaths.

DCMS committee chair Julian Knight said: “This inquiry will consider scientific evidence to link sport with the incidence of long-term brain injury. We will look particularly at what role national governing bodies should be taking and their responsibilities to understand risks involved for players and what actions might be taken to mitigate them.

“We’re seeing a number of cases involving brain injury in sport likely to reach the doors of our law courts and we will also look at the implications for sport in the longer term of any successful legal claim.”

The Independent reports that a group of former rugby union players has launched an action against World Rugby, the Rugby Football Union and the Welsh Rugby Union. The action, supported by Rylands Law, includes former England international Steve Thompson who is suffering from early onset dementia. He says he has no recollection of winning the World Cup with his country in 2003. Similar actions are being considered in football and rugby league.


Full report in The Independent (Open access)


2019 FIELD study



See also MedicalBrief archives:

UK study into football and brain damage to start in 2018


British experts want UN Rights of the Child intervention to remove the tackle from rugby


Evidence of brain damage in soccer players – small UK study


Rugby link with neuro-degenerative disease


Blood test for sports-related concussion


Later link of repetitive head impacts to depression and cognition

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