In: AWH, Industrial Disease

AWH Solicitors are proud to have completed the Great Manchester 10K Run for Alzheimer’s Society, raising well over their target for fundraising.

Josh Wood, Koyes Ahmed, Tom Xu, Danny Naylor, Alice Williams, Nimish Patel and Luka Patel all ran the 10k route to raise money for research into dementia and Alzheimer’s – a cause that AWH have been drawing significant focus on in recent times.

AWH and Alzheimer’s

The Alzheimer’s Society is a cause that AWH feel strongly about, having spent a great deal of time raising awareness of the increasing dangers in sports – specifically in both football and rugby.

In recent times, the deaths of multiple high-profile footballers due to brain illnesses have led to increased calls to further investigate links between sport and brain injury.

The main brain injury that sports players may be at risk of is Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE). This is a neurodegenerative disease which causes severe and irreparable brain damage as a result of repeated head injuries. A number of recorded cases in ex-professional footballers were initially attributed to the weight of the leather football. However, it has since been discovered that even the fully synthetic footballs that have been used since 1986 are damaging, with their potential velocity causing just as much impact on the skull.

Generally, the symptoms do not begin until years after the injuries and they can include behavioural problems, mood problems, and problems with thinking. The disease can ultimately result in dementia.

Rates of CTE have been found to be about 30% among those with a history of multiple head injuries – including professional, semi-professional and amateur sports players.

Perhaps the main catalyst for investigations into the link between sports brain injuries and dementia was the death of former West Brom striker Jeff Astle. On 19th January 2002, Astle died due to a degenerative brain disease that he had become aware of five years earlier. After his death, the coroner found that repeated minor traumas to the head had been the cause. He was subsequently confirmed as the first British footballer known to have died as a result of repeatedly heading a football, and the inquest into his death therefore recorded a verdict of ‘death by industrial disease.’

Since this initial verdict on Astle’s death, evidence has mounted to suggest that there is a serious risk to professional footballers of substantial brain injury, leading to dementia and Alzheimer’s. A report published in 2019 found that ex-professional footballers are three and a half times more likely than the general population to die of dementia. More recently, the death of Nobby Stiles in October of 2020 of prostate cancer and advanced dementia has again highlighted the prevalence of dementia in former footballers, as well as the earlier death of Jack Charlton from lymphoma and dementia in the same year. In fact, five out of the 11 players who won the World Cup for England in 1966 have all been diagnosed with dementia.

Unfortunately, these injuries and diagnoses are not limited to professional sports, and it has been found that a number of grassroots clubs are also not implementing the correct measures to keep their players safe. AWH hope that by raising awareness and fundraising for the Alzheimer’s Society, we can look towards a brighter future for those with dementia and Alzheimer’s.

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