Rugby-related head injuries increase risk of dementia

6 NationsA possible link between rugby-related head injuries and early onset dementia has been identified by a neuropathologist in Scotland.

Dr Willie Stewart, a brain injuries expert based at Southern General Hospital in Glasgow, made the discovery while examining the brain tissue of a former rugby player in his fifties. The rugby player had higher levels of abnormal proteins associated with head injuries and dementia than a retired amateur boxer who has Dementia Pugilistica. otherwise known as ‘punch drunk syndrome’.

Although the risk to rugby players is less than for those participating in other high impact sports where concussion is common, it remains a concern. Dr Stewart advises that, “For all levels of sport, if you think there has been a concussion, the player should be removed and not expose himself to risk.” He added, “A second head injury, coming within a short space of time and before the brain has properly recovered, can be much more severe and cause more problems and more symptoms.”

For further details from BBC Scotland, click here: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-23545796