Expert alert: Dr. Michael Grey leads new study to monitor ex-footballers for dementia signs

Dr. Michael Grey, who leads a project to monitor ex-footballers for early signs of dementia, has welcomed new guidelines that ban children from heading footballs during training.

New guidance, issued today by the football associations in England, Scotland and Northern Ireland, bans children from heading the ball. And heading restrictions for all age groups have also been announced, with a graduated use between the ages of 12 and 16.

The news comes after UEA launched a study to monitor ex-footballers for early signs of dementia, and research from the University of Glasgow showed that retired male players are around five times more likely to suffer from Alzheimer’s disease compared with the average person.

Dr. Grey, from UEA’s School of Health Sciences, said:

The new guidelines on heading the ball are welcome. Whilst we do not want to change the game, there is good evidence to suggest repetitive sub-concussive injury should be minimized. The new guidelines go some way to reducing repetitive head trauma exposure in football. They are however, guidelines rather than rules and the onus is now on coaches and trainers to ensure they are followed.

We need to develop better training techniques to reduce exposure in children even further. We also need further studies like the SCORES study ( to better understand cognitive health in former players.”

The UEA SCORES study will test former professional football players for early signs of dementia.

Little is known about exactly when players start to show signs of the disease and even less about the effects in women as the majority of research has focussed on men.

The UEA research team are using cutting-edge technology to test for early signs of dementia in men and women, that are identifiable long before any memory problems or other noticeable symptoms become apparent.

For more information see:

Project website:

Twitter: @ProjectScores /


Want to take part?

The research team are looking for former professional football players, both men and women, who are aged over 50 to take part in the study. Active non-footballers aged over 50 can also take part.

The research will see a small group of participants coming into the lab, but the majority of the testing will be done online at home.

To take part, please visit To contact the team about the project, please email [email protected]

Could you help by making a donation?

Those who would like to chip in, to help make this project possible, are invited to visit to make a donation to the research.  

Your donation will go towards funding the equipment, software development, and researcher time to carry out this vital research.


The opinions expressed here are the views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of News Medical.
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