Parliamentarians will launch an investigation into concussion in sport as scrutiny increases on the links between head injury and neurodegenerative diseases.
The digital, cultural, media and sports committee “will consider the scientific evidence of the links between head injury and dementia and how the risks could be mitigated” in two remote sessions, the first of which will take place on March 9. The news follows reports in The Guardian that revealed the extent of dementia among former rugby players.
In an interview with The Guardian, former England prostitute Steve Thompson revealed that he had early-onset dementia and probable chronic traumatic encephalopathy at the age of 42. He recalled experiencing repeated concussions when training as a professional in the early 1990s.
“In the old days it was kind of funny. If someone got hit on the head, it was, ‘Oh look at him, he had a belt. He’ll be up in a minute, ‘”he said. “You think how many specialists were out there watching that and not saying anything. They knew what was happening. And nothing was done about it. “
Thompson has called for regulation of rugby union to better protect players from concussions. In response, World Rugby, RFU and WRU issued a statement in December. “We have been deeply saddened to hear the courageous personal accounts of the former players. Rugby is a contact sport and while there is an element of risk in playing any sport, rugby takes the well-being of players extremely seriously and remains our number one priority. As a result of improved scientific knowledge, rugby has developed its approach to surveillance, education, management and prevention of concussions throughout the game. “
Other sports are introducing new rules for treating head injuries. In football, the Premier League and Football Association have introduced permanent concussion substitutes, allowing injured players to be removed from the game without the opposing team gaining an advantage.
The FA, together with the Association of Professional Soccer Players, is funding the FIELD study, which examines the links between professional soccer and dementia. However, there have been calls from across the sporting world for more research to better understand the risks athletes are taking.
Last month, the government organized two “virtual summits” that brought together several leading sports figures and heads of governing bodies to share experiences and best practices.
After the second summit, Sports Minister Nigel Huddleston said: “Encouraging progress is being made in our understanding of head injuries in sports with the important research that is being done.
“With the clear commitment to working together demonstrated by all governing bodies and healthcare professionals, I am confident that we will make rapid progress in improving the well-being of our present and future sports stars.”
The DCMS committee investigation will be conducted in parallel with government interventions.
George is Digismak’s reported cum editor with 13 years of experience in Journalism