Sign up for Englemed updates from TwitterSign up for Englemed updates from Facebook
Contact Englemed
Our contact email address.
We can provide a specialist, tailored health and medical news service for your site.
Click here for more information
RSS graphic XML Graphic Add to Google
About Englemed news services - services and policies.
Englemed News Blog - Ten years and counting.
Diary of a reluctant allergy sufferer - How the British National Health Service deals with allergy.
BookshopFor books on women's health, healthy eating ideas, mental health issues, diabetes, etc click here

WWW Englemed
Copyright Notice. All reports, text and layout copyright Englemed Ltd, 52 Perry Avenue, Birmingham UK B42 2NE. Co Registered in England No 7053778 Some photos copyright Englemed Ltd, others may be used with permission of copyright owners.
Disclaimer: Englemed is a news service and does not provide health advice. Advice should be taken from a medical professional or appropriate health professional about any course of treatment or therapy.
Epithelial cell states distinguish between uterine cancers
Fri December 3rd - Two epithelial cell states have been identified that can help to distinguish between types of uterine cancer, British researchers announced last night. More
COVID-19 boosters increase immunity
Fri December 3rd - Six different types of COVID-19 boosters are safe and increase immunity following vaccination with either the AstraZeneca or Pfizer-BioNTech jabs, British researchers report today. More
On 09/10/2020 William Haworth wrote:
How long is recovery time after proceedure... on Ablation cuts atrial fibrillat...
On 08/02/2018 David Kelly wrote:
Would you like to write a piece about this to be i... on Researchers unveil new pain re...
On 23/10/2017 Cristina Pereira wrote: on HIV breakthrough - MRC...
On 12/09/2017 Aparna srikantam wrote:
Brilliant finding! indeed a break through in under... on Leprosy research breakthrough...
On 01/07/2017 Annetta wrote:
I have been diagnosed with COPD for over 12 years.... on Seaweed plan for antimicrobial...

Older former rugby players have 'worse cognitive function'

Thursday October 21st 2021

Former elite rugby players over the age of 75 who had multiple concussions in their playing careers have worse cognitive function, researchers report today.

The BRAIN study worked with nearly 150 retired, male elite players now aged 50 and over who played for England, Oxford University or Cambridge University in the pre-professional era.

Writing in the latest edition of Alzheimer’s & Dementia, the authors found those under 75 who suffered three or more rugby-related concussions during their career have no worse average cognitive function than those who had experienced no, one or two concussions.

However, 14 out of 48 over 75s who had suffered three or more rugby-related concussions during their career had significantly worse cognitive function on average than those who had experienced no, one or two concussions.

These men may be at greater risk of more problems in the future, such as memory loss, warn the authors, who add the findings could have implications for the clinical management of older former rugby players, as well as those from other contact sports.

The research was conducted by the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, Queen Mary University of London and the Institute of Occupational Medicine with researchers from UCL and the University of Oxford, and with assistance from the Rugby Football Union (RFU).

It was the first to include substantial numbers from the over-75 age-group and the authors suggest that lower cognitive function was only noticeable in those over 75 could be in part due to the fact the former elite rugby players in this study were generally highly educated and likely had higher than average cognitive function at the start of their playing careers.

Dr Valentina Gallo, now of the University of Groningen in the Netherlands (formerly at Queen Mary University of London), a principal investigator and study first author, said: “Our findings are in line with those of previous studies, and perhaps highlight that the high cognitive reserve in this study group may have masked the initial phases of any cognitive problems they experience. We’ll be following up on this group of players to shed further light on our findings.”

Participants took part in a series of tests that measured physical and cognitive capabilities. Their cognitive function was measured using the Pre-clinical Alzheimer Cognitive Composite (PACC) score, which combines tests that assess episodic memory, timed executive function, and global cognition.

They found participants over 75 years with three or more concussions scored about two points lower on the PACC score.

While this does not indicate clinical disease, it indicates a difference in cognitive function and could indicate an increased risk of eventually developing neuro-degenerative conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease.

At least one rugby-related concussion was reported by 116 (80%) of the respondents, ranging from one to 25, but the median was two.

Dr Simon Kemp, RFU medical services director, said: “This study, that started in 2017, adds to our developing understanding of the potential long-term consequences of head impacts and concussions.

“The agreed group of participants were aged 50 plus principally because of the greater likelihood that we might detect any neurocognitive decline if present. It is important to also conduct research with younger retired players.”

He added that a new research programme has been launched with Premiership Rugby and two independent experts alongside the Advanced Brain Health Clinic in London, which will assess and manage retired elite male and female rugby players between the ages of 30-55 who have concerns over their individual brain health.

Lauren Pulling, CEO of The Drake Foundation, which funded the BRAIN study, said: “These are interesting results that provide new insights into the long-term effects of rugby as it was played in the pre-professional era, given that a difference in cognitive function was not seen until players were aged over 75.

“The findings also raise questions about how these effects might differ compared with players from today’s game, particularly given the players coming forward with early-onset neurodegenerative diseases following participation in modern rugby union.”

Gallo V, McElvenny DM, Seghezzo G et al. Concussion and long-term cognitive function among rugby players—The BRAIN Study. Alzheimer’s & Dementia 21 October 2021; doi: 10.1002/alz.12455.


Tags: Brain & Neurology | Fitness | UK News

Printer friendly page Printer friendly page

Comment on this article:

<a>,<b> & <p> tags allowed
Please enter the letters displayed:
(not case sensitive)