Head injuries linked to early onset dementia

Rugby teamRecent research undertaken by physiologist Professor Damian Bailey, has indicated potential links between repetitive head injuries and long term problems in rugby players in later life.

The findings, eminating from the Sport, Health & Exercise Science Research Unit at the University has suggested that sustaining multiple concussions 'accelerates brain aging and increases the susceptibility to potentially develop early onset dementia for rugby players later in life'.

The research studied the brains of nearly 300 current and former rugby players, looking for signs of whether repeated head injuries make the brain age faster. The team of researchers measured brain aging by assessing blood flow to the brain and how it takes on board oxygen. The study showed how a lifetime of multiple concussions over a player’s career influences the way that their brain functions in later life.

Whilst his research suggests potential challenges for the future of rugby, Prof Bailey is keen to promote the physical benefits of playing sport. The Research Unit is keen to extend the study to younger rugby players, in order to measure the impact of increased physical contact in rugby. He said 'there is very little research looking at the types of changes that occur in the way the brain regulates the oxygen flow to itself in children. That's the next series of studies that we are interested in running'. 

Faculty of Faculty of Life Sciences and Education

The University of South Wales has a strong tradition of health science education at all levels, from undergraduate training to postgraduate study and research.

By focusing on the workplace and preparation for practice, it allows specialist research units and centres to operate across the spectrum of health, education, sport and science. 

Although staff members are aligned to one research area, the Faculty have adopted a holistic approach and collaboration across the different research units and groups is common. Researchers create links with health economics, social policy and psychology providing solutions to real-life problems.

Within health and social care, the Faculty have established units of national and international renown in learning disabilities, genetics education and public engagement, and health economics.

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