Football, Heading and Brain Injury: Time for Government Intervention

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Contents

 

PART 1) The Need for State Intervention to Reduce the Potential for Brain Injury from Football


PART 2) The Need to Reduce or Eliminate Heading as part of Football (Soccer)


PART 3) The Cost of Football, Heading and Brain Injury to Health Services


PART 4)  The Need for a Preventative Sport and Dementia Strategy


PART 5)  Football and Heading: The Need to Resolve Conflicts of Interest 


PART 6)  An Examination of Former Soccer Players with Cognitive Decline  


PART 7) A List of Former UK Footballers Who Have Suffered From Dementia 


Videos


UK Videos on Football and Heading and US Videos on Football and Brain Injury


PART 1) The Need for State Intervention to Reduce the Potential for Brain Injury from Football

 

1: Previous Cases of Dementia in Former Footballers

 

This section outlines some previous examples of dementia in former players.  For example, members of the Aston Villa, 1957 FA Cup, winning side may have died as a result of brain injuries from heading footballs.  Danny Blanchflower, who captained Tottenham died after suffering from Alzheimer’s disease in 1993 (aged 67).  Spurs players Dave Mackay, Peter Baker and Ron Henry also suffered from dementia.  Members of the England World Cup Winning Team have dementia.  Former footballer, Ian St John, has highlighted neurological problems among former 1960's Liverpool players Ron Yeats, Tommy Smith and Geoff Strong

 

A coroner ruled Jeff Astle, the former England footballer, renowned for his heading ability, died from dementia caused by repeatedly heading the ball.  Astle died of Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE).  This is a disease caused by impacts to the head which produced symptoms, similar to dementia, including memory loss.  It is a form of dementia that occurs when the frontal lobes of the brain begin to shrink and could be responsible for 10%-15% of dementia cases.  Other significant cases of dementia, in former footballers, include John McNamee, the former Newcastle United central defender and Billy McNeil, the former Celtic central defender.  There is also the case of the former Cambridge defender Chris Turner who died of dementia which was attributed to heading footballs.

 

A former women’s American soccer player is highly aware of the possible links between playing football and dementia.  The former American soccer player Brandi Chastain has agreed to donate her brain to medical science when she dies.  In the UK, former Blackburn strikers Alan Shearer and Chris Sutton are leading calls for more research into heading footballs and dementia. To conclude this section, further research is needed to build upon the examples of dementia which have been identified.

 

2: A Model to Show Greater Public Awareness of Dementia and Sports

 

In 2014, the former England test cricketer, Ed Smith, wrote an article on the possible links between American football and brain damage.  From this article, a model of ‘awareness of sporting risk’ and dementia can be developed.  The model argues that, first, there was an awareness of the links between boxing and dementia; going back to 1928.  More recently, there has been an awareness that participation in American football, rugby and soccer can lead to dementia.

 

With the death of the batsman Philip Hughes concern over risk could reach cricket.  A solution might be that any ball bowled over shoulder height is counted as a wide with one run added to the batting team’s run total.  The batsman cannot be out, from such a delivery, except by means of a run-out.

 

3: The Number of Times a Player can Head a Football during a Career

 

If a player makes 10 headers, per game, with 50 games per season, including competitive pre-season friendlies, then that is 500 headers per season.  If there is a 20 year long career (500*20) then that is 10,000 career headers in total.  Another estimation suggests that football players play 300 games and head the ball more than 2000 times during their careers.

 

4:  Issues for Football to Address

 

The football industry needs to consider whether some footballers are at greater risk of dementia.  The central positions such as central defenders and centre forwards could be at greater risk and therefore require protection.  Another issue is whether older footballs were more dangerous and whether newer footballs are safer.  However, as newer footballs are more aerodynamic and the players can kick the ball harder now due to greater athleticism, then the speed of the ball and force of impact can be greater.

There are possible solutions such as using 5 a-side rules.  That is, a free kick could be awarded, to the opposing team, if the football is clearly kicked above shoulder height.  Yellow and red cards could be used to deter heading.  Also the goal posts could be changed to accommodate a game without heading; a new goal dimension of 1.5 metres, for the height, and 12 metres for the width could be appropriate.

 

5:  Issues for the Government to Address

 

The government has to intervene because the football industry, like other industries, has failed to regulate itself fully.  There is, generally, a failure of voluntary regulation. The mad cow disease saga is an example of an industry failing to regulate itself. This example demonstrates that earlier government intervention was needed to address concerns over safety.  Until recently the football industry has, generally, overlooked the risk to the brain from heading the ball.  This inaction provides a justification for state intervention. 

 

6:  The Aim of Possible Research

 

Government research on dementia is needed to understand the extent to which dementia is caused by sports; and how far dementia can be attributed to other causes.  The government needs to try and separate (1) the extent of dementia caused by brain injury from (2) the dementia caused by other factors such as diet and lifestyle (vascular dementia).  Prion disease (CJD), related to mad cow disease, could also be examined as a cause of dementia in the population.  A Royal Commission examining these wide ranging concerns is a relevant method of investigation. A fully funded research programme is needed; to bring together evidence from around the world into the effects of impacts on the brain.  


7: Video - Football, Heading and Brain Injury: Time for Government Intervention


YouTube Video


 

PART 2) The Need to Reduce or Eliminate Heading as part of Football (Soccer)

 

This part follows on from the previous examples of dementia in former players.  It provides further justification for state intervention as part of the professional game.

 

1: American Football

 

The data on head injuries from American football may have interesting implications for British football.  Research has shown that up to 71% of players who have sustained concussions will develop CTE (Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy). Concussions can be defined as multiple mild traumatic brain injuries (mTBIs).  Another study examined the brains of 111 former American football players and found CTE in 110 of them.  A more general examination of the brains of former gridiron players found that nearly 90 percent showed signs of the disease.  It has been argued that ex-NFL American football players are more likely to develop neurodegenerative diseases compared to non-footballers.  Due to the effects of concussion in American football, then there is a need to examine the safety of English football or soccer.  Evidence from American football has been used to argue that heading in soccer should be discouraged

 

2:  English Football

 

The football industry should be concerned with brain injury possibly resulting from the game.  There are teams, of former footballers, where at least 3 out of the 11 players have dementia (27 percent); this compares with 1 in every 14 (7 percent) of the general population aged 65 years and over. Footballers need to be aware that the brain does not have the complete ability to mend itself; and that short term brain function can be affected by heading a football whether this is in a competitive game or in a practice session.  The most dangerous form of header appears to be from a long clearance from a goalkeeper

 

3:  CTE and Motor Neurone Disease

 

The scientist, Bennet Omalu, argues that the football industry needs to be concerned with other possible types of brain injury apart from CTE.  There is a need to examine motor neurone disease too and whether this is partly caused by heading a football or other soccer related collisions.  A Turin University study found that the risk of motor neurone disease was six times higher amongst former footballers compared with normal rates of the disease.  The possible link between football and motor neurone disease should have been thoroughly explored in 2003.  This is relevant because of the deaths of former footballers from motor neurone disease.  These include the former Sunderland players Rob Hindmarch and Mel Holden and the Middlesborough player Willie Madren.  Also, the former Newcastle rugby player, Doddie Weir, has motor neurone disease which may be linked to playing rugby.  It has been argued that playing rugby league has led to brain damage.  It needs to be emphasised that a correlation does not mean that there is causality but these cases merit further investigation; especially in the context of the Turin research.

 

4:  Lessons which should have been learnt

 

Following on from the previous section, extensive research should already have been undertaken into football and brain Injury.  The possible links between heading and brain injury should have researched properly in the middle of the 1990's with the death of Danny Blanchflower from Alzheimer's disease in 1993.  There have been numerous deaths from dementia many of which could be attributed to playing football and these deaths were overlooked in the past.  The soccer industry has known about the deaths of Danny Blanchflower from Alzheimer's in 1993, and Rob Hindmarch, from motor neurone disease in 2002; and this is before the most obvious link between football and dementia with the death of Jeff Astle; again in 2002.

 

5:  Newer Footballs: The challenge of 'brain injury' remains  


The latest concern is from the former Ireland striker Kevin Doyle who has retired from football aged 34.  He wanted to avoid any long term health problems associated with heading as he has suffered from concussions as part of his career.  This case needs further examination because it could be the start of a trend of footballers needing to retire early; despite the newer and lighter footballs which have been used in the 21st century.  The number of 'aerial collisions', where footballers compete for the ball, could help explain concussions and headaches.  These clashes occur regardless of the type of ball used.  It would be hoped that restricting heading would also help reduce player-on-player contact; particularly head to head and head to elbow contact.  The newer ball may not lead to a lower level of dementia in former footballers.  This is because the relevant factor which determines brain injury is the amount of energy imparted on the head by the ball; rather than the weight of the ball.

 

6:  The Challenge for Football to Address Brain Injury

 

Scientists have yet to demonstrate definitive links between impacts to the brain and the development of dementiaHowever, it is becoming clear that the most likely explanation for dementia, in former footballers, is playing the sport.  Evidence suggests that teams from the 1950s and 1960s have five or six players who have developed dementia.


To reduce the dementia risk from heading, then a 'kick-ball' game is needed.   A revised form of game would also reduce the number of head collisions.  The football industry needs to be concerned about clashes of heads, or where a footballer elbows an opponent's head.  There could be modifications to the existing game where it is not permissible to head the ball from a kick off.  However, this would an unnecessary complication.  Hopefully, a consensus can emerge where it is simpler and safer to just to have a game where the football is kept at ground level; below 1.5m in height.  There is an opportunity to have a five a side type of game with 11 players on a 11 a side-sized pitch.  A move towards a 'kick ball' only game would be similar to the football that existed without heading in c1860.  The removal of heading from the game is about removing a feature of the game that should not have been present from the 1870's onwards.  The sport does not have to suffer too much as playing the ball along the ground is a feature of Manchester City's tactics.  This does not affect their play as they are top of the English Premiership in November 2017.  

 

7:  Conclusion:  Voluntary or Mandatory Regulation

 

If the harm from heading and 'aerial collisions' is accepted then one question remains and this is whether voluntary or mandatory regulation is going to be introduced.  The football industry could choose to go back to the football of 1860.  Alternatively, the government may feel that it has to intervene to reduce the level of brain injury in society.  If this were to happen then football would be in a similar situation to 1996; where the health minister announced a possible link between BSE and CJD (see below).  The state could announce that they want to impose additional taxes on football to reduce the level of dementia.


8:  Video on the Need to Reduce or Eliminate Heading as part of Football

 

YouTube Video


9:  Policy on Mad Cow Disease which could have relevance to Football

YouTube Video



PART 3) The Cost of Football, Heading and Brain Injury to Health Services

 

1:  Football, Heading and the Implications for Society

 

The costs to the NHS are outside of the decisions made in the football industry regarding what is an acceptable level of 'football safety'.  The football industry takes action to meet its own needs. It is now common practice, for a footballer with a head injury, after competing for a ball in 'the air', to be substituted.  However, this may not prevent long-term brain injury; particularly as a player could be passed fit to play again soon after.  There is still potentially a cost to the health service; the footballer and his family.  This is a cost which appears to be overlooked by the industry.

 

The National Health Service (NHS) is expected to pay for the treatment and care costs of a retired footballer, if they develop dementia from playing football.  This is similar to the costs that smoking imposes on the NHS; as the NHS is expected to pay for the treatment of smoking related illnesses.

 

2:  A Solution to the Social Cost of Head Injury from Football

 

The argument here is that welfare of the footballer has to take precedence over the needs of all the spectators who want to watch football.  The need to protect the brain of the sportsperson has to take precedence over the sport as a spectacle.  Also the exercise benefits of football can still be achieved, using a 5 - a side game, where the ball is played on the ground.

 

Consequently, the sport could significantly reduce the number of head injuries by reverting to the original Football Association rules of 1863 where the game was played without any heading of the football.  The heading of the ball only emerged 12 years later.  A nominal tax could be levied on football to encourage the sport to revert back to being played using the feet only.  This would be similar to taxation on cigarettes to reduce the incidence of smoking.  Such a tax could be removed if the game returned to the original rules.  However, if the industry were to ignore future cases of dementia among former footballers, then the level of taxation could be significantly increased.

 

The justification of this measure is that football needs to be treated in the same way as other sectors of the economy and society.  Industries which damage wider society need to have their activities corrected.  If a factory polluted a river and the water became polluted then government intervention would be expected.  Many former professional footballers have died prematurely from dementia and this could be attributed to heading a football.  The concern is not just over premature death but also the loss of quality of life from deterioration in the quality of life in later years. The effects of playing football could be felt for decades after the end of a playing career.  The football field is the place of work for the footballer and the industry has a duty of care to protect players from unnecessary injury. It is unacceptable for a footballer to lose consciousness due to a clash of heads when there are safer rules available which could avoid this outcome.  It is unacceptable for traumatic brain injuries to be considered as an occupational hazard.

 

3:  Conclusion

 

Further research is needed into heading a football and the potential for long-term brain damage.  However, government action should be taken regardless of the need for additional investigation. The main reason for this is to avoid a clash of heads when footballers compete for the ball, in the air, particularly in and around the penalty box.  It should be possible to reduce the number of head injuries substantially although foot, ankle and leg injuries will remain.


4:  Video on the Cost of Football, Heading and Brain Injury to Health Services

  

YouTube Video



PART 4)  The Need for a Preventative Sport and Dementia Strategy

 

A Definition of Dementia

 

It is the progressive deterioration of intellectual functions, such as memory, that can occur while other brain functions such as those controlling movement and the senses are retained.

 

1: The Need for a Preventative Sport and Dementia Strategy 

 

In the 19th century a doctor, in London, made a hypothesis and was able to trace an outbreak of cholera back to a contaminated water pump.  The closure of this water pump led to the elimination of the source of the disease. The suggestion made here is based on this outbreak of cholera.  The football industry could take action to reduce the level of dementia in former footballers.  A kick ball game could be introduced without any heading.  This action could be undertaken, without a complete understanding of the relationship between playing football and then suffering from dementia.

 

Scientific research would help in understanding the possible link between football and dementia.  The government needs to fund studies to this effect.  There is already a parliamentary report  which examined sport and brain injury. A strategy now needs to be formulated to reduce the impact of sport on the brain.  A preventative approach is needed, so that action can be taken before the incidence of brain damage increases.  Such a pre-emptive strategy would be similar to policy advice to reduce flooding and anti bacterial resistance

 

2: The Need for Government Research

 

A preventative approach would highlight the costs of dementia to individuals; as well as to national health and social services.  The ultimate aim would be to reduce the incidence of dementia among former sports people.  A government study would also examine what state interventions are needed to reduce the number of brain injuries.  This would entail an evaluation of different policy options such as outright prohibition, taxation or a softer marketing approach; where the risk of heading is communicated to a footballer.  Preventative action can be taken without a full understanding of the scale of the health problem.  This was the case with the reduction in cholera, in London, in the 19th Century.

 

PART 5)  Football and Heading: The Need to Resolve Conflicts of Interest 

 

1:  Conflicts of Interest: The Case for Intervention in Football

 

The possible link between football (heading) and dementia was discussed in 1995.  However, the former Ireland striker Tony Cascarino stated that: "even if there was proof (of a link) I doubt if it would make much difference. It's a risk people are prepared to take. They think of their careers and carry on taking the money".  This is the case for government intervention; that if the footballer is unwilling to protect themselves then the state needs to interfere to protect the player, the player's family and the wider society.  This involvement needs to take place even without the full knowledge of the link between football, heading and dementia.

 

2:  Bias and Optimism in the Football Industry

 

Another concern is that prioritising a football career may lead to a bias in favour optimism.  For example, a player suggested that "these days the balls are a lot softer and a lot better".  This statement is true but scientific concerns remain.  The brain injury risk may be no lower now than in the past.  The newer balls still transfer a significant amount of energy to the head and the brain. The footballer's optimism provides another reason for possible government intervention.

 

PART 6)  An Examination of Former Soccer Players with Cognitive Decline  

 

1:  Discussion on Footballers with Dementia

 

The list (in part 7) provides a record of former UK footballers who have suffered from dementia.  It is similar to a list of American footballers who have experienced CTE (chronic traumatic encephalopathy). The list covers a range of different types of dementia which include Alzheimer's diseaseCTEvascular dementiaLewy body and pick disease.  The list is a basic one which covers many famous players from the past who played for England, Scotland, Wales or Northern Ireland. Players include Tottenham's Dave MackayPeter Baker and Ron Henry.  Other prominent players who have been included are Ron YeatsJohn McNamee and Joe Mercer.

 

One of the complexities when compiling the record was to decide which players to include.  Jack Charlton has been incorporated because it was revealed that he suffers from severe memory loss.  Frank Worthington has also been included, on the basis of memory loss, although this diagnosis has been denied.  Mike Sutton's case has only recently been discussed and has been put on the list.  Chris Nicholl has bravely spoken about the challenges he faces; but there is not a formal diagnosis yet, so he is not on the register. However, the length of Chris Nicholl's career is interesting as he played for 19 years from 1965-1984.  Nicholl's central playing position is also relevant as he was likely, to have needed, to head a football more than players on the wings of the pitch.  

 

The record is not comprehensive as it does not cover less well known players or amateur footballers.  The list is only based on publically available sources which are easily accessible on the internet.

 

2:  Research on the link between football (heading) and dementia: A Cross-Table

 

This section will explain how research could be undertaken to examine the link between playing football and dementia.  A cross-table could be constructed. For example, a sample of 2,000 people could be taken of 1,000 footballers and 1,000 non-footballers.  The researcher would then seek to find out how many of those football players and non-players did or did not have dementia.  This is shown in the table below.

 

3:  Cross-Table to examine footballers, non-footballers, dementia and non-dementia

 

  

Footballer (age 65-95)

Non-Footballer    (age 65-95)

Cases with Dementia

 

 

Cases of Non-Dementia

 

 

 

1,000

1,000


This is a simple table although it is complicated by how a researcher would determine whether a footballer has dementia or not; as discussed above.  Careful consideration would need to be given to how the age group is specified.  So, the footballer group would need to be males aged between 65 and 95; and the same for the non playing group.  The proportions within this 30 year age group would have to be consistent across the two groups.

 

The table could be elaborated upon by dividing the 'footballer category' into three different sets: professional footballer, amateur footballer and non-footballer.

 

Professional Footballer  (age 65-95)

Amateur Footballer  (age 65-95)

Non-footballer  (age 65-95)

 

4:  Research on the link between football (heading) and dementia

 

More sophisticated statistical research is needed.  It would be necessary to categorise a footballer by (1) the position played or (2) the length of his career.  Therefore, it could be possible to link the footballer to dementia as follows:


(1)  The possible link between position played > and dementia

(2)  The possible link between the length of career > and dementia

 

It would also be possible to separate the 'generic label' of dementia into different categories of the disease.  This was discussed in section 6.1. and so could examine: 

 

(1a)  The possible link between position played > and Alzheimer's disease.

(1b)  The possible link between position played > and Pick's disease (a type of dementia).

 

5:  Method for Measuring the Length of the Player's Career

 

The length of the footballer's career was found by taking the last year of the career (where games were played) and then subtracting the first year of the career.  For example, 1966-1950=16.  However, information can be missing, especially, with games played in the non-league after the end of the player's formal career. 

 

6:  The Age of the Footballer when they died

 

Information was collected on the age of the footballer when they died after suffering from dementia.  The information on when the footballers died is commonly available. The age of death could be of interest to a statistician who is trying to explore the possible link between football and dementia.  This is because an earlier death could indicate a more serious case of dementia.  However, this information was removed from the table.  This was to be sensitive to former footballers, and their families, who are living with cognitive deterioration.

 

7:  A Conclusion

 

The table shows that 80 footballers have developed dementia after playing the sport.  It is interesting that about half of the dementia cases were labelled as Alzheimer's disease.  There are a significant number of former players who had Alzheimer's in their 80's.  The large number of cases of cognitive deterioration, among former players over 80, can be compared with the 17 per cent of people who have dementia over the age of 80.  Nevertheless, it is not possible to reach a detailed conclusion on the basis of this data alone.


8:  An Afterthought


It is possible that the cardio-vascular benefit of playing football could lead to an individual living longer; but this benefit could be more than offset by the (possible) cognitive decline caused by heading a football.  A five-a-side or kick-ball game will have cardio-vascular benefits without the possible brain damage caused by heading.

 

PART 7)  A List of Former UK Footballers Who Have Suffered From Dementia (Compiled in November 2017)

 

Number

Surname

First Name

Playing Position

Length      of Senior Career in years

Type of Dementia        (including memory loss)


 

1

Allen

Ronnie

centre forward 

19

Alzheimer

2

Allison

Malcolm

centre half

17

?

3

Aldis

Peter

Defender

11

?

4

Astle

Jeff

Striker

18

CTE

5

Baker

Peter

right back

15

Alzheimer

6

Bell

Eric

Wing-half

8

Alzheimer

7

Bicknell

Roy

Defender

9

Alzheimer + Parkinson's

8

Blanchflower

Danny

right half

18

Alzheimer

9

Bowles

Stan 

forward

17

Alzheimer

10

Broadbent

Peter

midfielder

21

Alzheimer

11

Brooks

Johnny

Inside forward

19

 Vascular Dementia

12

Buchanan

Cameron

inside forward

15

?

13

Byrne

John

forward (b. 1934)

?

Dementia + Parkinson's

14

Byrne 

Gerry

Left back

12

Alzheimer

15

Calderwood

Jimmy

midfielder

17

?

16

Chalmers

Stevie

centre forward /outside right

19

?

17

Charles

John

centre forward 

22

?

18

Charlton

Jack

centre half

21

memory loss

19

Clark

Brian

striker

19

 Lewy body

20

Conway

Jimmy

midfielder

18

?

21

Corbett

Willie

centre half

12

?

22

Crowe

Charlie

Defender

13

Alzheimer

23

Cullis

Stan 

centre half

13

?

24

Davies 

Ron

full back

15

Alzheimer

25

Dixon

Johnny

Inside forward

16

Alzheimer

26

Dougall

Neil 

inside right

19

Alzheimer

27

Feasey

Paul

centre half

17

?

28

Fernie 

Willie

forward

16

Alzheimer

29

Forbes

Duncan

central defender

16

Alzheimer

30

Foulkes

Bill

centre half

19

Alzheimer ?

31

Furphy

Ken

defender

18

?

32

Glazzard

Jimmy

striker

11

Alzheimer

33

Hails

Billy

?

8

Alzheimer

34

Henry

Ron

left back

14

Alzheimer

35

Hill

Jimmy

inside right

12

Alzheimer

36

Hunt

George

Inside forward, 

19

Alzheimer

37

Jarvis

Alan

?

10

CTE

38

King

George

forward

8

Alzheimer

39

Kopel

Frank

left back

18

 Vascular Dementia

40

Lofthouse

Nat

centre forward

14

?

41

Lynn

Stan 

right back

19

Alzheimer

42

MacKay

Dave

left half

19

Alzheimer

43

McEwan

Jimmy

Right wing

20

?

44

McGill

Jimmy

forward

13

?

45

McNamee

John 

defender

16

Alzheimer

46

McNeil

Billy

defender

18

?

47

McPhail

Billy

centre forward

17

Alzheimer

48

McShane

Harry 

outside left

18

Alzheimer

49

Mercer

Joe

left half

23

?

50

Moore

Kevin

defender

20

Picks

51

Mortensen

Stan 

centre forward

18

?

52

Moss

Ernie

forward

20

Picks

53

Musgrove

Malcolm

left wing

13

Alzheimer

54

Paisley

Bob

left half

15

Alzheimer

55

Peters

Martin

midfielder

22

Alzheimer

56

Ramsey

Alf

right back

12

Alzheimer

57

Reid

Jimmy

inside forward

7

?

58

Ritchie

John

forward

15

Alzheimer

59

Saward

Pat

defender

12

Alzheimer

60

Serella

Dave

central defender

14

CTE

61

Sexton

Dave

inside forward

11

?

62

Smith

Les

Outside left

17

Alzheimer

63

Smith

Tommy

defender

17

?

64

Sowden

Billy

centre forward 

12

?

65

Stevenson

Jim 

centre half

?

Alzheimer

66

Stiles

Nobby

defender / midfielder

15

?

67

Stobart

Barry

Forward

15

Vascular Dementia

68

Strong

Geoff 

Inside forward, 

17

Alzheimer

69

Stroud

Roy

outside right

?

?

70

Sutton

Mike

midfielder

10

?

71

Swan

Peter 

centre half

23

Alzheimer

72

Tees

Matt

Forward

15

?

73

Twentyman

Geoff 

central defender

17

Alzheimer

74

Turner

Chris

defender

15

frontal lobe

75

Walk

Joe

left back

16

Alzheimer ?

76

Wilson

Ray

Left back

19

Alzheimer

77

Wood

Brian

central defender

18

Dementia + Parkinson's

78

Worthington

Frank

forward

25

           Alzheimer          (in doubt)

79

Yeats

Ron

centre half

20

?

80

Young

Allan 

centre half

13

?

 

A List of Former UK Footballers Who Have Suffered From Motor Neurone Disease (MND) (November 2017)

 

This is a list of former footballers who have suffered from motor neurone disease (MND) or Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS).  This has been linked to brain injury.  Motor neurone disease has been linked with heading a football.  It has been claimed that the risk to footballers of motor neurone disease may be higher than in the general population.


Number 

Surname

First Name

Playing Position

Length of Senior Career in years


Type of Disease

  1

English

 Sam

Striker

7

Motor Neurone Disease

  2

Hindmarch

 Rob

Central Defender

14

Motor Neurone Disease

  3

Holden

 Mel

Forward

7

Motor Neurone Disease

  4

Hopper

 Tony

Midfielder

12

Motor Neurone Disease

  5

Johnstone

 Jimmy

Outside right

10

Motor Neurone Disease

  6

Leighton

 Tony

Striker

14

Motor Neurone Disease

  7

Maddren

 Willie 

Defender

10

Motor Neurone Disease

  8

McVicar

 Don

Left back

16

Motor Neurone Disease

  9

Turner

 Gordon

Forward

15

Motor Neurone Disease

A Disclaimer

 

Time has been spent to try and make sure that the information presented is accurate.  However, for more detailed work, readers are advised to use other sources such as Google Scholar.  The reader is advised to conduct their own research if they want more information and analysis.  In 2017, a full scale research study was being planned at Glasgow University.