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Heading football may cause brain damage: US study

Published on Feb 28, 2013 6:58 AM
Rio Ave's Brazilian midfielder Wires de Sousa (R) heads the ball next to SC Braga's forward Ederzito Lopes "Eder" during the Portuguese first league football match Rio Ave vs Braga at the Arcos Stadium in Vila do Conde, on February 18, 2013. -- PHOTO: AFP

LONDON (AFP) - Heading the ball may increase the risk of brain damage to football players, new research has indicated.

The US study, which concentrated on schoolgirl footballers, revealed evidence of mental impairment cause by repeatedly heading the ball, with scientists saying the effects suggest "mild traumatic brain injury of the frontal lobes".

However, they stressed more research was required to determine whether the changes were permanent or temporary. The study featured a group of 12 teenage female footballers and a matching group of non-players.

Both groups were given a computer screen response test designed to assess levels of mental alertness. The participants had to react to the random appearance of a white square by touching a point on the opposite side of the screen, with their performance measured by the speed of their response.

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