North Rhine-Westphalia: Rugby clashes and headers: how harmful are they to health?

North Rhine-Westphalia: Rugby clashes and headers: how harmful are they to health?

Status: 07/26/2022 8:31 PM

In some sports, they are mandatory – hit to the head. Various studies show that headers and the like cause health problems. Now over 100 former rugby professionals have been stirred up by a lawsuit.

Over 100 former rugby professionals have joined forces. According to media reports, they are suing the Rugby World Association and the national associations of England and Wales. His allegation: From his point of view, associations should not have adequately protected players from permanent damage caused by injuries sustained during their careers.

The plaintiffs also include former national players. Some of them suffer from early onset dementia, epilepsy, Parkinson’s disease and CTE, chronic traumatic encephalopathy, in which brain cells degenerate.

  • Late effects of head injuries: former rugby professional complains

Studies suggest long-term harm

Rugby is not the first sport where head injuries and potential long-term damage from concussions have been a topic of conversation. This is also an issue in some other (ball) sports. but what is it? Does a head-on or a hard collision between the athletes’ heads cause permanent damage to the health of those affected – or not? Some studies suggest so.

Concussions are not always diagnosed

The fact is that the risk of a concussion increases when you hit the ball or hit it with a header. The problem: Concussions aren’t always diagnosed, and according to experts, a particularly mild form of craniocerebral trauma often goes undetected.

However, brain structure changes as a result of craniocerebral trauma. According to experts, for example, boxers develop at least minor cognitive impairments during their active time. Cause: Nerve connections suffer from shock, may be damaged or even torn. “Above all, new memory deteriorates, that is, what happened hours or days ago. Because these brain structures are particularly sensitive and deep in the hippocampus,” quotes Dr. Hans Forst from the WDR science journal “Quarks” Clinic and Polyclinic does. Psychiatry and Psychotherapy at the Technical University of Munich.

motor skills may decrease

According to Förstl, ten to 20 percent of professional boxers suffer from persistent neuropsychiatric diseases throughout their lives. Their motor skills decrease and they are at increased risk of developing Parkinson’s disease and Alzheimer’s disease. Depression and increased aggression are further consequences.

But not only in rugby and boxing, but also in sports such as hockey or football, prolonged head or header injuries can damage players’ brains.

DFB is dependent on training of children

The American Football Association has produced results and headers for Children Children under the age of eleven are now banned. England, Scotland and Northern Ireland introduced similar rules for children some time ago. The German Football Association (DFB) shows no such effort. From the DFB’s point of view, training is a better option than ban.

A boy practices a header

Image: imago

In January, Klaus Reinsberger, a neurologist and member of the DFB’s medical committee, noted the various studies on the risk of herds: “Most study designs contain both positive and negative studies. We know that herds are a risk factor that affects the brain. But we also know that headers can certainly be associated with positive changes in the brain.”

Back to the rugby pros who filed suit. After the NFL, the North American football league, defied the lawsuits of thousands of former and injured players nine years ago, the professional league has so far paid more than 800 million euros in compensation. Will the rugby union react in a similar way so that former professionals can withdraw their lawsuit? It is currently open.

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We will also report on this topic on WDR Television on July 26, 2022 at 9:45 pm at WDR Aktuell.



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