Hibs manager backs research into links between football and dementia

This month’s news that Sir Bobby Charlton is the latest high profile former player to be diagnosed with dementia has prompted further examination of links between brain injuries and football and Hibs boss Jack Ross has backed any research that would make the game safer, especially for younger players.

Hibs manager Jack Ross has backed more research into brain injuries in football. Photo by Mark Scates/SNS Group
Hibs manager Jack Ross has backed more research into brain injuries in football. Photo by Mark Scates/SNS Group

The players' union in England, the Professional Footballers' Association, is creating a task force, and Ross has backed any research that would inform protocols going forward.

“‘I’m aware, obviously, of the recent publicity around it and the campaigning that’s been done by some high-profile ex-players, and their personal reason for doing it.

“I do know there’s a lot of research behind it and Dr Willie Stewart [consultant neuropathologist and honorary clinical associate professor at the University of Glasgow] has done a lot of work here in Scotland on head injuries, concussion and the like.

‘If you look at all sports, there is more awareness now of the potential damage and brain injuries that can be received through sport, be that concussion or just heading a ball and I would be very supportive of more research and evidence pointing towards whatever behaviour we have to adopt. Particularly at a young age.

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“‘When you look at dementia and Alzheimer’s as an illness, it’s certainly not a particular pleasant one for people that have to go through it. So, the awareness is one thing. The second thing is to provide sufficient backing to increase research, find more evidence that would support changing things, especially for younger children.”

One positive move would be the introduction of temporary substitutes to permit concussion checks during games.

‘There’s very little about that idea that I don’t see as common sense,” said the Easter Road manager. “In the past, maybe there has been a slightly blasé attitude towards head knocks because, in the heat of the moment, you’re worried about making sure you have a full complement of players on the park.

‘The pressure medical staff will be under to get players back is a factor but if you negate that by allowing temporary subs, that would help.

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‘There isn’t any downside to doing that if it helps us with head injuries.”

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