A recent article has highlighted concerns over the link between dementia and sports-related head injuries. Following the premiere of a documentary focusing on the link between head injuries and traumas triggered by contact sports such as rugby union, which features Barry O’Driscoll – uncle of the famed most-capped union player Brian O’Driscoll – there has been a call for more to be done by sport to confront head injuries that could lead to dementia.
The uncle of the popular Irish centre is also a former medical advisor to the International Rugby Board and spoke in the documentary, Head Games: The Global Concussion Crisis, about his thoughts on the effects of concussion in sport. O’Driscoll was reportedly outraged when his nephew was allowed back on the pitch last year during the Six Nations after suffering concussion. There is now an increasing amount of attention being given to concussion sustained through sport and calls for more to be done in terms of research into a link.
It is thought that more and more sportsmen are suffering from dementia and the effects of brain damage as a result of sport injuries sustained in the past, which could lead to these individuals becoming reliant on the specialist dementia care of a nursing care home in their later years. The documentary Head Games brought the seriousness of concussion to the surface, as it detailed the risk hard sports players put themselves at when the possibility of head injuries leading to chronic traumatic encephalopathy is considered.
CTE has traditionally been associated only with boxers but it is now also thought to affect those who regularly play American football, ice hockey and rugby at a high level. The Guardian reported that doctors and neurologists have found former players of other sports besides boxing in which there is an intense level of contact and risk of head injury to have suffered CTE and it has since had a significant impact on the image of the NFL in America.
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