Former England and Arsenal defender Tony Adams has urged fellow former players to sign up to a major study, examining the link between heading the ball and long-term cognitive decline.
The Health and Ageing Data in the Game of Football (HEADING) study, funded by the Drake Foundation and supported by the PFA and the FA, is using evidence from recent studies which suggest a link between former professional footballers and a greater risk of neurological disease, aiming to plug the knowledge gap by recruiting approximately 300 former players, in order to examine the association with a history of head impacts from their playing days.
The study will contact all former members of the PFA, aged 50 and over however, those who think they may be eligible are welcome to contact the study team directly. Through a number of detailed assessments, the researches at the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, will be able to gather data on retired players work history, playing history and lifestyle factors, alongside extensive test to capture physical and cognitive capabilities, in addition to neurological clinical examination.
PFA member Tony Adams has said he finds it surprising so little research has been done on something that is such a big part of the game: " Heading is part and parcel of our game. It’s therefore surprising how little research has been undertaken on the risks from doing so repeatedly, as well as concussion.
“As a former professional footballer I’m pleased to support this important study which will boost our knowledge on the potential harms of these head impacts in later life. I urge my former teammates and opponents to contribute to this research which could impact on the wellbeing of current and future players"
PFA Chief Executive Gordon Taylor has said: "In light of the recent findings from FIELD, it is vital that we try to identify the exact cause of the increased risk for neurological conditions in professional football players. We hope that the HEADING study will be a positive step towards gaining that evidence, to enable the necessary steps to be taken to further protect players. It is vitally important for any members contacted by the study to get involved, to ensure the research is able to achieve its objective."