Fight against dementia in sport gathers pace

Momentum behind the PREVENT:RFC project, the latest phase of the Sport United Against Dementia campaign, is gathering pace.

Rugby players Shane Williams, the all-time record try scorer for Wales, and England’s World Cup winner Ben Kay are among 50 former top-level rugby players to have backed the initiative. 

It builds on the existing UK and Ireland-wide PREVENT project, which also includes a pilot study with footballer players, including Alan Shearer, the Premier League’s record goal scorer who recently presented the BBC documentary ‘Alan Shearer: Dementia, Football and Me’.

The large-scale PREVENT:RFC research, funded by the Alzheimer’s Society, will look at important unanswered questions, such as whether elite rugby players show more early warning signs of dementia than the general population.

PREVENT:RFC will be based in Edinburgh with Professor Craig Ritchie, PREVENT’s principal investigator, working with Professor William Stewart from the University of Glasgow.

Previous research led by Professor Stewart revealed that professional footballers appear to be five times more likely to die from Alzheimer’s disease than the general population.