Sports-related concussion focus of major research project

The long-term effects of sports-related concussion are the focus of a major research project launched in Dublin yesterday.

Project organiser, the International Concussion and Head Injury Research Foundation (ICHIRF), has teamed up with the Sports Surgery Clinic in Dublin, which will screen volunteers later this year.

It will establish whether retired sportspeople have an increased incidence or suffer an early onset of neuro- generative diseases, such as Parkinson’s disease and Alzheimer’s disease.

The three-year study, which was launched in London in January, will also look at the incidence of chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), a progressive degenerative brain disease found in athletes.

The independent study is open to all sportspeople, but will initially focus on retired British, Irish, and French jockeys because of the high incidence of concussion in horse-racing. The project will be launched in France next year.

The foundation is working collaboratively with other organisations researching the same subject in Australia, Switzerland, and the US.

The ICHIRF said concussion is one of the most contentious issues and sports medicine and high quality, multi-centred, independent research is long overdue.

The ‘Concussion in Sport’ project is led by Michael Turner, who has more than 40 years experience working in sports medicine.

Dr Turner — who established the ICHIRF in 2014 — worked for 21 years as chief medical adviser to the British Horseracing Authority and now performs the same role for the Lawn Tennis Association.

Chairman of the foundation is the former British minister for sport and British Olympic Association chairman Colin Moynihan.

The scientific committee is chaired by Paul McCrory, recognised as a world leader in concussion research.

Retired British jockey Richard Dunwoody said professional jockeys, who fell around once every 14 rides, gave little thought to the long-term effects of repetitive head injuries.

“It will be of great benefit to establish the facts regarding the effects of concussion and to be able to minimise risks for athletes in the future,” said Mr Dunwoody.

Around 700 people have already completed the online questionnaire at www.concussioninsport.org 

The project organisers are hoping for high participation rate so that a large body of data will be available for analysis.


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