London: Heading a football may cause players to suffer from brain abnormalities and memory loss, a study has revealed.
According to researchers from the Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York, an advanced magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) technique has revealed that footballers frequently playing the `header` suffer changes similar to those seen in patients with traumatic brain injury.
The researchers had studied the brains of 37 amateur adult soccer players with the help of a MRI technique known as diffusion tensor imaging ( DTI), which can identify microscopic changes to the brain`s white matter, which consists of billions of nerve fibres.
Stating that they chose to study soccer players because of its worldwide popularity, study leader Dr Michael Lipton said that the brain findings of the most frequent headers in their study showed abnormalities of white matter similar to that seen in patients with concussion.
The researchers had used fractional anisotropy (FA), a measurement of the movement of water molecules along nerve fibres to examine the stateof players` white matter, following which they found that abnormally low FA values are associated with mental impairment in patients with traumatic brain injury.
Lipton further said that soccer players who headed the ball above a threshold of 885 to 1,550 times a year had significantly lower FA, while players who headed the ball more than 1,800 times a year were more likely to score poorly in memory tests.
Lipton also said that controlling the amount of heading that people do might provide an approach for preventing brain injury because of heading.
More than 265 million people around the world are active soccer players.