10 November 2017

College Fellow Dr William Stewart and Alan Shearer on the possible link between dementia and football.

In this BBC documentary, Alan Shearer joins Dr William Stewart, Consultant Neuropathologist at Queen Elizabeth University Hospital Glasgow, to explore the potential link between headling the ball and dementia.

Alan Shearer remains the Premier League's all-time top scorer, with 46 of those goals coming from heading the ball.  

In this clip, Dr Stewart and Alan examine some brain specimens with the naked eye. 

Dr Stewart:  “We were delighted to welcome Alan in his journey to find out more about the possible link between heading in football and the increased risk of dementia, in particular, a specific form of dementia known as chronic traumatic encephalopathy.

Alan joined us in the mortuary to look at brains from patients with dementia, some of whom played sport, to discuss changes we might be able to see with the naked eye. 

We then examined material under the microscope from a former footballer with dementia, to discuss the abnormalities and what these findings could mean for football, research and public health.

The film also follows Alan as he engaged with our research collaborators across campus. He visited our research colleagues at the University of Stirling who are working with us to try and detect changes in the brain immediately after heading.

I believe this documentary is an excellent illustration of neuropathology, informing our current understanding of disease, and directly guiding research to diagnose and manage challenging and complex conditions such as dementia.” 

Dr Stewart also leads the Glasgow Brain Injury Research Group who are investigating the range of neuropathologies associated with traumatic brain injury (TBI). In the course of the programme Dr Stewart also informs Alan how vital it is that people donate their brains so they can continue their research. 

You can find out more about donating your brain by visiting the Medical Research Council website. 

Alan Shearer: Dementia, football and me: BBC1 -  Sunday 12 November, 10.30 pm.