Dementia: US expert calls for a ban on headers for children

The disease is triggered by constant bumps and bumps on the head. The reason is that the nerves in the brain can be damaged and tau proteins are released. These tau proteins then build up and end up interfering with the functioning of the brain.

Neuropathologist calls for consequences

Neuropathologist McKee has reported CTEs in hundreds of former American football players. The insidious: the disease can so far only be detected by an autopsy of the brain. The emphasis is on sports such as boxing and ice hockey. More than 60 American football players have died before their 34th birthday. But the focus is also on football. In an interview with Bayerischer Rundfunk, McKee confirms cases of CTE in American amateur football – she doesn’t give any specific numbers. It demands consequences – especially in old age when young people start playing ball.

“We can change something in football. We can ban the headers. We can play smarter. We can change the rules so that the head butt problem in football goes down. And we can do it immediately to protect these players. ” Ann McKee, Boston University neuropathologist

Gerd Müller – a CTE case?

CTE has been clearly diagnosed with Brazil international Hilderaldo Bellini. In the case of several footballers with dementia, at least the suspicion is evident. Was German striker of the century Gerd Müller also a CTE case? One can only speculate about this. One thing is certain: According to a study by the University of Glasgow in August, football players have a four times higher risk of developing dementia than average. Defenders have an even five times higher risk.

Doctor calls for headers ban

Ban on headers in football? A debate which is already being held intensely in England, for example. In Germany, on the other hand, there are still few. But the pressure on the German Football Association (DFB) is increasing.

SSV Jahn Regensburg second division football team doctor Andreas Harlass-Neuking advocates a ban on headers for children up to ten years old. Because you know that when you’re young, “those hard knocks to the head, maybe even for the consequences in later years, are very decisive,” Harlass-Neuking says in an interview with BR. The Glasgow study could not be ‘swept off the table’.

DFB still reluctant

The DFB is against a general ban on headers. Instead, there have been recommendations since February 2021. The aim is to limit the number of headers in formation “as much as possible” – especially for children and young people. Balloons in size and weight should correspond to the age groups and should be inflated less forcefully. And for extra protection, the DFB recommends strengthening players’ shoulder and neck muscles.

The data situation is not yet sufficient for the DFB. Professor Claus Reinsberger is a neurologist and expert in charge of the DFB medical commission. He says, “If you are now asking yourself the question, are permanent headballs harmful to the brain, and how harmful they are, unfortunately we are not yet as far as we would like. This means that ‘ There are still scientifically open questions. There are still questions that need to be answered. ” Various studies are currently being carried out on the subject in Germany, which should provide additional information in the coming months.

Winston Ferguson

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