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PFA representatives speak at global CTE conference at Boston University, Massachusetts

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Representatives from the PFA’s Brain Health department attended the 7th annual Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE) conference at Boston University, Massachusetts, joining global leaders to discuss the latest advancements in sport-related brain trauma prevention. 

The conference was hosted by the Boston University Alzheimer’s Disease Research Centre, one of the USA’s leading institutes dedicated to advancing research on the condition.  

Dr Adam White, Head of the PFA’s Brain Health department, delivered a keynote on CTE prevention in professional football in England. White also discussed the union’s work in using clinical research to develop practical policy guidance for sport, including the creation of a CTE Prevention Protocol. 

Dawn Astle and Rachel Walden, advocacy and family support leads at the PFA, led a panel discussion on the impacts of CTE on families in the UK. Dawn and Rachel both lost their fathers – former professional footballers Jeff Astle and Rod Taylor – to the disease.  

Dr Adam White said: “It was a privilege to represent the PFA and our members at Boston University this week and I’m proud that our work continues to contribute to vital discussions around brain health in sport. 

“CTE and neurodegenerative disease is complex and continually evolving. It is so important that we remain at the sharp end of the science, whilst also leading the global conversation on prevention. Having a ‘seat at the table’ to collaborate and knowledge share with the world’s experts is invaluable as we continue to push for change in the landscape of brain health across professional football.”   

Dawn Astle, Rachel Walden and Dr Adam White at Boston University

Dr Christopher Nowinski, CEO of the Concussion Legacy Foundation, reflected on the PFA’s contributions in Boston: 

“Dawn Astle and Rachel Walden courageously shared testimonies of their families’ experiences with CTE. We must work to ensure that the next generation of professional football players and their families are fully supported to confront brain health risks in the sport. 

“I commend the PFA for leading the way in this space and for their dedication in advocating for player brain health with the creation of the first CTE Prevention Protocol in sports.” 

The PFA is pushing for a transformational change in football’s approach to the brain health of current and former professional players. The Brain Health department drives the union’s strategy which focuses on developing a culture of positive brain health for players and enhancing the lives of players – past and present – living with neurodegenerative disease.  

In September 2023, the PFA and Premier League launched a new interim Brain Health Fund to assist former players and their families who have been impacted by dementia and other neurodegenerative conditions.  

To read more about the work of the Brain Health department, click here.  

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