Babbage: The fight to link contact sports to long-term brain injuries
Over the past few years, hundreds of rugby players have launched class-action lawsuits against the sport’s governing bodies, accusing them of failing to do enough to protect players from head injuries. They say that repeated blows to the head, sustained through years of playing rugby, or other sports, have caused neurodegenerative conditions like dementia, motor neurone and Parkinson’s diseases. But can scientific evidence prove a link between contact sports and these brain conditions?
Alix Popham, a Welsh former professional rugby player, tells his story of head injuries on the pitch and his desired outcomes from the lawsuits. Plus, Lauren Pulling, who runs the Drake Foundation, explains the current state of neuroscientific research and what further studies are needed to investigate the connection. Alok Jha hosts with Natasha Loder, The Economist’s health editor, and Georgia Banjo, our Britain correspondent.
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