: Soccer is one of the most popular sports worldwide, played by over 270 million people and followed by many more. Several brain health benefits are promoted by practising soccer and physical exercise at large, which helps contrast the cognitive decline associated with ageing by enhancing neurogenesis processes. However, sport-related concussions have been increasingly recognised as a pressing public health concern, not only due to their acute impact but also, more importantly, due to mounting evidence indicating an elevated risk for the development of neurological sequelae following recurrent head traumas, especially chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE). While soccer players experience less frequent concussions compared with other contact or combat sports, such as American football or boxing, it stands alone in its purposeful use of the head to hit the ball (headings), setting its players apart as the only athletes exposed to intentional, sub-concussive head impacts. Additionally, an association between soccer and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis has been consistently observed, suggesting a potential "soccer-specific" risk factor. In this review, we discuss the neurological sequelae related to soccer playing, the emerging evidence of a detrimental effect related to recurrent headings, and the need for implementation of comprehensive strategies aimed at preventing and managing the burden of head impact in soccer.

Soccer (football) and brain health

Pensato, Umberto;
2024-01-01

Abstract

: Soccer is one of the most popular sports worldwide, played by over 270 million people and followed by many more. Several brain health benefits are promoted by practising soccer and physical exercise at large, which helps contrast the cognitive decline associated with ageing by enhancing neurogenesis processes. However, sport-related concussions have been increasingly recognised as a pressing public health concern, not only due to their acute impact but also, more importantly, due to mounting evidence indicating an elevated risk for the development of neurological sequelae following recurrent head traumas, especially chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE). While soccer players experience less frequent concussions compared with other contact or combat sports, such as American football or boxing, it stands alone in its purposeful use of the head to hit the ball (headings), setting its players apart as the only athletes exposed to intentional, sub-concussive head impacts. Additionally, an association between soccer and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis has been consistently observed, suggesting a potential "soccer-specific" risk factor. In this review, we discuss the neurological sequelae related to soccer playing, the emerging evidence of a detrimental effect related to recurrent headings, and the need for implementation of comprehensive strategies aimed at preventing and managing the burden of head impact in soccer.
2024
Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis
Chronic traumatic encephalopathy
Head trauma
Heading
Neurological disorders
Sports concussions
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/11699/86052
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