Dr Michael Turner of The International Concussion and Head Injury Research Foundation (ICHIRF) is conducting the research, which aims to establish if concussion in sport can lead to altered brain health in later life, which may result in early onset of confusion, depression and memory loss. The results of the research will be published in Spring 2019.
The research process, which consists of a series of tests, compares a group of athletes who have suffered at least one concussion with a similar group who have never had concussion (the control group). The study is currently recruiting volunteers who are former professional and amateur jockeys and competitive equestrian-riders above the age of 50 years, who have either suffered concussion or not. The screening takes place at the Institute of Sport, Exercise and Health, University College, London.
Bob Champion, who won the Grand National on board Aldaniti in 1981, and who is 70 years old, recently underwent the screening process, and said:
“During my race-riding career I had about a dozen serious concussions, with one resulting in not being able to ride for six months, as I was banned on medical grounds.
“Currently we don’t know how concussion might affect the brain as we age, and because of my concussions, I do worry about my future brain health, and what life may look like in years to come. I have seen jockeys and other sports-people that have had bangs on their head, and as they have aged some change, particularly with experiencing bad balance and forgetfulness.
“This research is important for horseracing, as it’s the first of its kind, and the results should provide a deeper understanding of concussion and its long-term effect on the brain”.
Dr Michael Turner, of ICHIRF, who is leading the study, said:
“To date we have screened over half the people we need to, and we are now making a final call to former jockeys and competitive horse-riders, over the age of 50, to please volunteer. We cover expenses and ensure anyone that takes part feels very comfortable and is happy throughout the day of the screening.”
If you are interested in volunteering for the study, please visit www.ichirf.org where more information can be found, including contact details.
To watch a video interview with Bob Champion on his concussion concerns and the screening process, visit www.ichirf.org.