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In recent years, evidence has continued to mount suggesting that repeated blows to the head over the course of an athlete’s career and a failure to remove a concussed player from the field immediately following a head injury can have very serious long term consequences.
The case of ex-footballer Jeff Astle, who is remembered not only as an exceptional header of the ball but because a coroner ruled that repeatedly doing so led to his dementia contributing significantly to his premature death at 59, is just one significant example of this increasing awareness.
Neurosurgeon Professor Tony Belli, and his research Partner, Dr Grey, who are developing their own testing, advise that whilst recent events have highlighted the issue of head injury in sport and that progress is being made, more needs to be done. “This is a medical decision, not a sporting decision. We wouldn’t let a drunk driver tell us that he is OK to drive, so why are we letting concussed players say it is OK for them to carry on? For their own safety, that decision needs to be taken out of their hands” said Dr Grey. Both suggest that a simple breathalyser could be developed that is fast and sensitive enough to detect the biological molecules released into the blood stream following a concussion.
It will be very interesting to monitor what further developments are made in this area over the coming months.
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