The UK Parliament’s Department for Culture Media and Sport (DCMS) committee has released its report and recommendations following a detailed inquiry into sports participation and brain injury.
The report is the result of a series of parliamentary sessions where experts provided a wide range of evidence to the committee. Among the expert witnesses giving evidence were Willie Stewart, Consultant Neuropathologist at the University of Glasgow, and Brain Health Scotland’s Director Craig Ritchie.
The inquiry was launched following increasing campaigning and media attention to investigate reported links between a professional sports career and an increased risk of dementia.
The DCMS report makes several key recommendations including calls for greater research funding and increased education and oversight for managing and reporting concussions in sport. The committee also advise the swift development of a coherent UK-wide protocol for concussion to run across all sports, based on the Scottish model already in place.
Henry Simmons, Alzheimer Scotland’s Chief Executive and Associate Director of Brain Health Scotland said: “We are pleased to see the release of this detailed report from the DCMS following a thorough investigation into this important issue for brain health. We welcome the recommendations made in this report and we are pleased that it recommends extending models of best practice established and implemented in Scotland across the UK. Such progress of this nature would not have been possible without the leadership and dedication shown by the research community in Scotland and in particular the ground breaking work of in Professor Willie Stewart and his colleagues and more recently the leadership shown by Professor Craig Ritchie to establish and develop Brain Health Scotland. As the report comments, there would have been very little progress had it not been for the immense efforts of those campaigning for greater research investment and understanding. People like Jeff Astle’s daughter, and here in Scotland, the tireless efforts of the late Frank Kopel’s wife Amanda, must be commended alongside the many others who have supported this campaign and driven forward this important area of investigation.
We recognise the many benefits sports participation can have for our overall brain health and welcome any strategic actions that can be put in place to help minimise the associated risks of brain injury. We look forward to working closely with the relevant bodies to ensure these recommendations are taken forward into meaningful action to promote and protect brain health for current, former and future sports participants.”