On Monday 8th February, The Rugby Players Association held their first Brain Health Webinar. The event, hosted by former England international Ben Kay, invited a panel of leading specialists to provide their expertise to retired professional players on the topics of neurodegenerative disease and brain health, including what steps they might take moving forward to optimise their own brain health.
The webinar also included a live Q&A section where attendees were able to put questions to the panel directly on any areas of the discussion they wanted to explore in more detail.
The panel shared their knowledge on areas such as risk factors, current data around dementia in sport and CTE, the links between mental health issues and dementia, and useful resources (find below) to help educate the attendees further.
The specialist panel consisted of:
Dr Willie Stewart - Consultant Neuropathologist (NHS Greater Glasgow.
and Clyde) and Honorary Clinical Associate Professor (University of Glasgow and University of Pennsylvania).
Dr Richard Sylvester - Consultant Neurologist at the National Hospital of Neurology and Neurosurgery and Homerton University Hospital.
Professor Craig Ritchie - Professor of the Psychiatry of Ageing at the University of Edinburgh and Director of Brain Health Scotland.
Dr Fiona Wilson - Associate Professor of Physiotherapy at Trinity College Dublin.
The Rugby Players Association wants to extend its deepest gratitude for the panel's time and vital insight on a subject so important to our rugby community. A further thank you to all the former players who attended and contributed to the Q&A. It was hugely encouraging to see so many attendees interested in how they could positively impact their own brain health.
Following the discussion, Host and former player, Ben Kay, said: “I’m sure everyone involved with rugby has been saddened and concerned with recent reports of former players who have been suffering with problems around their brain health. Whilst obviously concerned for those players welfare, the story has also triggered anxiety amongst their cohort around what this might mean for themselves. We felt it was vital to provide balanced expert information on the topic to all ex players to help educate, address and allay some of these fears, whilst also providing advice on how we can reduce all the other potential risk factors to such problems as we age. I’m sure all who watch the webinar will take comfort from our brilliant panel’s answers and will join me in thanking them for their involvement.”
As we aim to continue to create useful resources for our membership, we have produced a simple Brain Health Guide to reinforce some of the messages from the event. There are links within the guide for advice on a Mediterranean diet, as well as more information on understanding dementia and broader brain health. Click HERE to read the guide.
The Rugby Players Association Brain Health webinar and guide form part of our ongoing commitment towards supporting and educating retired and current members on this important subject.