The DCMS committee will hold two sessions to consider the links between sport and long-term brain injuries

UK Parliament inquiry into brain injuries suffered in sport 

MPs on the Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS) Committee are examining the links between sport and long-term brain injuries. The inquiry, named Concussion in Sport, is considering brain injuries suffered in sport over two sessions, the first of which was held on Tuesday 9 March.

Alongside considering the link between sport and brain injuries, the committee will also discuss evidence for the implications for youth sport and further scientific research.

The inquiry welcomed six experts to the first session in order to better understand the scientific evidence for links between sport and long-term brain injuries. Among the experts was professor Willie Stewart, a consultant neuropathologist who acts as adviser to World Rugby on concussion.

“Rugby has made great developments in understanding how you can assess players with brain injury on the field,” said Professor Stewart at the session. “That should be the model and the benchmark that (other) sports start from.”

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Also present was neurodegenerative disease specialist Professor Craig Ritchie, from the Centre for Clinical Brain Sciences. The committee questioned the incidence of disease among players, the mitigation of any risks, and the dangers in youth sport.

Exploring necessary changes for sport and the role of national governing bodies, the DCMS committee inquiry also welcomed Richard Oakley, the Head of Research at Alzheimer’s Society; Peter McCabe, the Chief Executive of Headway; and Dr Michael Grey, Reader in Rehabilitation Neuroscience.

DCMS Committee Chair Julian Knight MP said: “This inquiry will consider scientific evidence to link sport and long-term brain injury.

“We will look particularly at what role national governing bodies should be taking and their responsibilities to understand risks involved for players and what actions might be taken to mitigate them.

“We’re seeing a number of cases involving brain injury in sport likely to reach the doors of our law courts. We will also look at the implications for sport in the longer term of any successful legal claim.”

The second session of the inquiry will involve governing bodies and individual players.

With brain injuries an increasing area of concern for sportspeople, their inclusion in the inquiry is of paramount importance. Most notably, former rugby players filed a lawsuit against World Rugby, the Rugby Football Union and the Welsh Rugby Union.

Alleging a lack of protection from governing bodies, the action includes former England international Steve Thompson, who’s suffering from early onset dementia. He says he’s unable to remember winning the 2003 Rugby World Cup.

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