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Dementia and concussion

Posted in Psicon's Neurorehabilitation at Psicon (NAP)

From a recent article in the Guardian by Paul MacInnes (2021), Dawn Astle, daughter to Jeff Astle, discusses the potentially detrimental impact of heading the ball in football and advocates for change. This article contributes to the growth in awareness of brain injury in sport, including football.


“Football doesn’t want to think it can be a killer.”


Concussion has been linked as a possible risk factor for developing Dementia. Dementia is an umbrella term for conditions that are characterised by a deterioration in neurocognitive functioning (memory, language and problem solving) to the extent that it interferes with daily life. It can also affect a person’s behaviour and emotions. A concussion is a type of traumatic brain injury triggered by a blow to the head that causes temporary confusion or loss of consciousness. Although the experience is short lived the impact can be lasting. So how does this effect those who are at risk and suffer from concussions as a normal part of their career?


Clinical Psychologist in neuropsychology, Sonet Strijdom, says that following the rules which are created to protect players, careful evaluation, honesty from the athlete / player and a well-managed return to play protocol, are all factors that limit the risk of developing more serious problems when athletes are vulnerable to sustaining head injuries. Associated factors such as the need for rest and missing sporting activities / matches, loss of fitness, external and internal pressure, self-doubt and a sense of failure can contribute to secondary mood and anxiety problems which may complicate the recovery process.


We offer neuropsychological assessment and support services to those who have suffered an acquired / traumatic brain injury (including concussion) as well as for people with Dementia (including Alzheimer’s Dementia). Our multidisciplinary team also include the services of our occupational therapist and physiotherapist.