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Professional Footballers At Risk Of Neuropathy

Professional Footballers At Risk Of Neuropathy

By Marietta Gross - Scoop Media Auckland.

Scoop Report: Scientists have been discussing for years whether frequent headers cause brain damages. According to a new study from Italy footballers are jeopardized by another danger - ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis).

Professional footballers face a higher risk than those among the general population of suffering from the fatal neuropathy disease ALS (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, also called Lou Gehrig’s disease). Seven thousand Italian professional footballers from Premier and Second League participated in a study between 1970 and 2001, reports the German Press Agency dpa. Instead of the expected 0,8 cases the scientists found five athletes with ALS.

The reason for the accumulation is unclear. But the journal “Brain” reports the study affirms accidental observations made by doctors during a doping-examination several years ago: Among 24,000 Italian footballers 33 cases of ALS were detected - and that is an exceptionally high incidence rate compared to the statistical norm.

ALS is a chronic disease of the central nervous system. Motor neurons, which are responsible for the steering/controlling of motion, are destroyed bit by bit. There is no impact on apperception and intellectual abilities, but normally a paralysis of the body's muscles occur. The causes for the disease are largely unknown, most often it is fatal.

Clinicians theorise that perhaps head injuries initiate the neuropathy. There may also be a genetic factor aiding the onslaught of the disease, says psychiatrist Ammar Al-Chalabi. Doping substances and other toxics could also play a role. On the other hand, others theorise, it is possible that people at risk of ALS are particularly good athletes due to their neuromuscular configuration.

© Scoop Media

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