Written by 10:02 pm Fitness and Sports Views: [tptn_views]

Edwin Van der Sar Suffered a Stroke: Are Ex-footballers More at Risk?

The former Ajax goalkeeper was admitted to intensive take care of an encephalic hemorrhage. The scientific evidence published to date suggests that ex-footballers have the next risk of affected by some brain diseases.

Last update: 10 October, 2023

On Friday, July 7, the legendary Dutch goalkeeper suffered a brain hemorrhage while on vacation on a Croatian island. So far, his state of health is stable, although worrying, in accordance with an official statement issued by the Ajax club.

Beyond the case of Edwin Van der Sar, scientific evidence indicates that soccer players are more prone to affected by brain diseases within the medium and long run. We’ll take a more in-depth take a look at what this implies in this text.

How is Edwin Van der Sar’s state of health?

Just a few days ago, the soccer world was alarmed by the sad news: Edwin Van der Sar, the historic Dutch goalkeeper, suffered a stroke. The first official announcement was made by the Amsterdam club Ajax, where the previous player spent a big a part of his profession:

This Friday, Edwin van der Sar has had a hemorrhage around his brain. He’s currently within the hospital, within the intensive care unit, and is in stable condition. His condition is stable, but still worrisome.

~ Ajax official press release ~

Van der Sar, who until May this yr was the final manager of Ajax, was on vacation together with his family in Croatia. The 52-year-old former goalkeeper suffered a fall and was rushed by helicopter to an area hospital. There he was admitted to the intensive care unit (ICU), where a ruptured blood vessel in his brain was detected.

What is a stroke?

There are two varieties of stroke: hemorrhagic and ischemic. Both can destroy brain cells, causing severe damage to major functions and risk of death.

Ischemic stroke is brought on by a blockage of a blood vessel that carries blood to the brain. Such blockage may occur as a result of a narrowing of the arteries or a blood clot.

On the opposite hand, hemorrhagic stroke occurs when a blood vessel within the brain ruptures and blood is distributed throughout the realm. According to the data disclosed to date, this is able to be the case for Van der Sar.

Are footballers more prone to affected by brain diseases?

The news has raised a key query for soccer and sport on the whole: are skilled footballers more prone to affected by brain diseases? Although this can be a field of ongoing research, there are several studies which have already worked on the topic and have answered within the affirmative.

The risks correspond to the standard traumas of contact sports, similar to head contusions. In soccer, as well as, frequent blows to the skull with the ball during headers.

Beyond the potential of immediate serious injuries during practice, it’s also being investigated whether athletes have the next risk of affected by brain diseases in the long run. Furthermore, whether this risk includes neurological diseases and accelerated cognitive deterioration.

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What does the Spanish Society of Sports Medicine say?

A report by this entity describes that the sports with the very best incidence of head injuries are soccer, cycling, rugby, horseback riding, cycling, and a few aquatic sports. Although they represent a smaller percentage in comparison with other sports injuries, they’re those that may result in greater long-term complications.

On the opposite hand, the report indicates that concussions represent between 5% and 9% of injuries during sports practice. This can occur when the top hits a moving object and the implications vary in accordance with the severity of the case.

Some possible symptoms are as follows:

  • imbalance
  • forgetfulness
  • headaches
  • nausea and vomiting
  • lack of consciousness
  • changes in alertness

According to this work, repeated concussions and repetitive head-balling could also be a risk factor for mental health and cognitive impairment. However, more studies are needed to grasp how and to what degree these practices are linked to other neurological diseases.

A study of former players of the Norwegian national team

Another study, published within the specialized journal Neuroradiology, examined 33 former players of the Norwegian national soccer team using brain computed tomography. They found that one-third of those athletes had central brain atrophy.

The authors conclude that such a condition could also be as a result of repetitive small head injuries from the sports they play.

A recent paper from the University of Glasgow provides concrete data

The University of Glasgow carried out a comparative study between 7676 former Scottish skilled soccer players and 23,028 people from the final population control. The results indicated that these athletes had the next percentage of mortality from causes related to neurodegenerative diseases.

In contrast, mortality from other common diseases was lower. In addition, the work revealed that former soccer players were more often prescribed dementia-related medications.

Crashes, headers in soccer, and a risk of concussions

A study published in The American Journal of Sports Medicine had as its research population soccer players who competed within the U.S. Olympic Sports Festival. The surveys revealed that there have been 74 concussions in 39 male players, while there have been 28 concussions in 23 female players.

The work highlights the relevance that headers have in this case, even though it doesn’t detract from the importance of other instances of the sport. It is made clear that, in accordance with the info collected, concussions from player-to-player contact are a frequent hazard in soccer. These collisions accounted for 48 of the 74 concussions revealed.

Like this text? You may additionally prefer to read: Skilled Dutchman is Mistaken for Messi’s Son: Learn 5 Benefits of Soccer for Children

The treatment and rehabilitation that awaits Edwin Van der Sar

The treatment of a stroke relies on the severity of the stroke. If the previous goalkeeper suffered a hemorrhagic variant, the aim is to cut back the pressure generated within the brain.

There are different alternatives for treatment, including the next:

  • Medication to dissolve blood clots, if any.
  • Mechanical removers to remove clots and debris.
  • Surgery to remove the blood and repair affected blood vessels.

Rehabilitation consists of recovering the talents which will have been affected by the stroke, in addition to the intake of medicine to stop future similar situations. Another necessary aspect is to cut back risk aspects, similar to hypertension and high cholesterol.

Although more research is required to find out the incidence of soccer practice on strokes, there are studies that give attention to the chance of dementia and other brain diseases. According to the studies published to this point, collisions between players and repetitive head-butts increase the chance of such conditions.

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