Virtual reality could spot concussion in footballers

Virtual reality could spot concussion in footballers


"With our virtual reality balance test we're having the brain do one thing and then challenge it by tilting the room and it's only by doing this we see subtle changes that might not show up in a standard neurocognitive test."

"You will have players who say: 'No I'm fine, I want to go on'. But you do this test - or one like it - I think those questions go away," he added.

BBC reporter Laura May McMullan took the technology to West Bromwich Albion Football Club.

Baggies legend Jeff Astle died 15 years ago. A coroner ruled his death was caused by brain trauma, brought on by heading heavy leather footballs.

His family has campaigned to football authorities for more research into the link between football and dementia.

The club's director of performance, Dr Mark Gillett, said: "I think we're looking for functional tests that allow us to make a quick decision and technology such as that could potentially be very helpful."

The daughter of a former professional footballer who died from brain trauma has walked out of a meeting with a top official in the game.

Dawn Astle was meeting Gordon Taylor, chief executive of the Professional Footballers' Association (PFA), who she believes has a duty of care towards former players. But frustrated with his response, she leaves the room.

Her father Jeff Astle died in 2002 at the age of 59. A coroner ruled his brain trauma was caused by heading footballs.

The Astle family has campaigned for more research into the link between football and dementia.

Former Aston Villa, Wolverhampton Wanderers and West Bromwich Albion striker Andy Gray has backed the technology.

He tells the programme: "What football has no excuse about is embracing modern technology. It has no excuse. It can't say we don't have the money, it's awash with money.

"Paying millions and millions of pounds to footballers and then worrying very little about their health."

Virtual reality could spot concussion in footballers

The FA's head of medicine, Dr Charlotte Cowie, said it established an expert panel in 2015 which issued new guidelines on concussion.

"These guidelines were designed to help recognise and manage concussion - from the time of injury through to a player's safe return to football," she said.

"The expert panel further agreed that research is particularly required into the issue of whether degenerative brain disease is more common in ex-footballers."

"We have recently agreed with the PFA to jointly fund and support this research as we believe that a collaborative approach will strengthen the credibility and resource available to the project."

You can see this story in full on BBC Inside Out West Midlands at 19:30 GMT on BBC One on Monday 20 March or via iPlayer afterwards.



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