FIELD STUDY - What are the PFA doing?
In 2017, the PFA Charity – together with The FA - commissioned Dr. Willie Stewart and the Glasgow Brain Injury Research Group to conduct research into ‘Football’s InfluencE on Lifelong outcomes and Dementia risk’ (FIELD) at the University of Glasgow. The FIELD study is the first peer-reviewed research to determine that having played professional football correlated with an increased rate of dementia within its sample group.
The PFA are committed to doing everything we can to support any members dealing with dementia, and their families. Since the announcement made by FIELD, we have extended our support by committing to the following plan:
In partnership with the Alzheimer’s Society, we’ve made a dementia helpline available for PFA members. Here, our team will help you access the relevant support.
If a member has received a diagnosis of dementia - or any neurodegenerative condition - support is available from the PFA. Details of the support available is listed here.
A Combined Approach
Since 2001, the PFA and The FA have supported dementia focused research studies, and reviewed regulations regarding concussion and head injury. It is time for all other bodies to join us. We are calling upon FIFA, FIFPro, UEFA, the Premier League and EFL, to join us and determine how the industry will protect its current players and support former players.
A Football-Wide Fund For Dementia
We will also be calling on domestic footballing bodies to come together and designate an industry-wide fund to support members and fund further research.
We regularly consult The FA Research Group for issues relating to the health and wellbeing of our members. In light of this new research, we will be requesting that the group urgently considers precautionary changes that may help minimise potential risks.
- Adapting training schedules to reduce the frequency of heading the ball.
- Strengthen concussion protocol and management of head injuries.
- Introduce new rules, such as the use of concussion substitutions.
We are committed to ensuring further research helps gain answers for our members. In addition to FIELD, the PFA Charity has been involved in three other research projects, each looking at different aspects of dementia and how it may relate to football.
We need research so we can effectively advocate on our members’ behalf to the governing bodies of the sport, and make informed decisions about effectively reducing risk factors.
This research must consider the different participants within the sport: men, women and academy players.
We are currently involved in two studies relating to brain research - FIELD and a study with ICHIRF. As part of the longitudinal aspect of these studies, brain donations from former professional footballers are required after death for autopsy.
Numerous PFA members have already agreed to this - five of them being PFA staff. If other members are interested in learning more about brain donation, contact firstname.lastname@example.org.