Feeling a bit light headed and lofty after your friendly weekend of football? It’s no coincidence.
A new study has discovered that heading a football can significantly affect a player’s brain and memory function for up to 24 hours. This startling finding comes via a group of researchers at The University of Stirling who published their results in the scientific journal, EBioMedicine.
Furthermore, the study outlined a “small but significant changes in brain function” after players headed the a ball 20 times. Looking at the statistics closer revealed that the human brain’s memory performance was reduced by between 41% and 67% following the routine heading often encouraged in football and practice sessions.
Even though the effects were found to wear off after 24 hours, medical experts were still harbouring concerns over the potential damage it could be doing to the human brain in the long term. In the worst case scenario the doctors were looking at the increased risk of dementia.
Dr Magdalena Ietswaart who is a cognitive neuroscientist at the University of Stirling said that the research was carried out to determine the link between brain injury and the globally received sport. To reach their conclusion, the researchers fired footballs from a machine which was designed to simulate the force of a corner kick.
They then asked the players to head the ball 20 times before comparing their brain activity which was measured before and after the header.
“Using a drill most amateur and professional teams would be familiar with, we found there was in fact increased inhibition in the brain immediately after heading and that performance on memory tests was reduced significantly,” Dr. Ietswaart said.
“Although the changes were temporary, we believe they are significant to brain health, particularly if they happen over and over again as they do in football heading.”
“With large numbers of people around the world participating in this sport, it is important that they are aware of what is happening inside the brain and the lasting effect this may have.”
Hypothetically speaking, would you have scored that goal if no one could remember you scored that goal? Easy on the heading, guys.