Sports stars urge fans to ‘lend their brain’ to world’s largest concussion study
- ‘Sporting Mindset’ campaign aims to raise awareness of the link between concussion and dementia.
- Dementia-detection app Mindset4Dementia has partnered with charity ‘Head for Change’.
- The campaign is also backed by prominent international sporting figures including Alix Popham and Viv Anderson.
- Mindset founder, NHS medical professional Hamzah Selim, says the campaign has the power to turbocharge medical insight into the relationship between sport and neurological disease.
London xx – Prominent rugby and football players have urged sports fans to take part in the world’s largest-ever study into the link between dementia and sport. The ‘Sporting Mindset’ campaign, launched by dementia-detection app Mindset4Dementia, is inviting Britons to use the app and ‘lend their brain’ by contributing vital data from the comfort of their own homes. It aims to raise awareness and turbocharge insight into the relationship between concussion and brain disease.
The campaign has received the backing of former Welsh rugby international Alix Popham and English football international Viv Anderson. Mindset has also partnered with Head for Change, a charitable foundation pioneering positive change for brain health in sport and supporting ex-players who are affected by neurodegenerative disease.
Created by a group of young NHS medical professionals, the smartphone app Mindset4Dementia (Mindset) aims to detect the early stages of cognitive disorders which are prevalent in the sports world. Through the app which takes an average of 5 minutes, anyone can help train the AI to become better at spotting the early warning signs of dementia and help develop a brain ‘MOT’. This data could transform the treatment of athletes involved in impact sport, from grassroots to professional leagues, worldwide.
Last year, Mindset published a report in the Guardian based on early user data which showed a clear correlation between concussion and neurological damage. It follows the finding that football players are three-and-a-half times more likely to die from neurodegenerative conditions and has serious implications for those involved in impact sports.
As a unique feature for the campaign, Mindset have added a screening mechanic for Post Concussive Syndromes (PCS) into the app. This will allow Mindset to pick up users with PCS and look for correlation with other factors such as cognitive impairment, mood changes, and life-style factors. It will also provide the ability to monitor individuals at different stages of their concussion, helping Mindset to better understand the link between concussion and CTE.
Sporting Mindset was launched as a critical response to this growing evidence. Mindset looks to galvanise the British public to address this issue and provide a solution. By downloading and using the app, sport lovers can provide vital data that will pave the way to better understanding the link between dementia and sports. Early detection can vastly improve the treatment and care athletes living with dementia receive.
Co-founder Hamzah Selim said: “Within Mindset’s database, as well as in the media, we have seen a sharp rise in the number of athletes presenting with concussion related impairments. As sports-lovers, and more importantly as medics, we are here to better understand the condition, and build better care for athletes.”
“Mindset’s campaign, Sporting Mindset, gives people everywhere the opportunity to change the narrative and be part of the solution. By downloading the app and helping us train the AI, we can turbocharge medical insight into the relationship between sport and neurological disease.“
Viv Anderson said: “I’m proud to be joining Mindset in bringing awareness to dementia in sports. From a very early age I was taught to head a football. Now it’s the time to help the next generation to make a change”
“We’re calling on sports fans to download the app to help as better understand the link between concussion and dementia. With this effort we can help protect the next generation of sports players”
Alix Popham said: “I had my diagnosis at the start of lockdown. We call it D-Day – Diagnosis Day and it was a massive shock to us all, because at the time I was just 40. I want everyone from the governing bodies, to the players and ex-players to come together and be part of the solution to make the game we love safer.”
“By taking 5 minutes out of your day to download and play the Mindset4Dementia app, you can join the fight against dementia and make a real change in the lives of athletes.”
Sally Tucker, Trustee Head for Change said: “Player health and wellbeing are central to our mission at Head for Change. Seeking to gain more knowledge through research will enable us all to make more informed decisions about sporting practices.
We are partnering with Mindset to help to work on a solution to this crisis. The public can support us by downloading the app and completing the tests which will train the technology to try to identify features of dementia in its early stages.”
Notes to editor
The Mindset data showed 88% of participants (3,195 people) had no previous history of concussions. Within this group, 6.64% reported living with a neurological condition. Of the 436 participants who had experienced a concussion, 14.68% reported living with a neurological condition.
The concussion group therefore had a 2.2x increased risk of having a neurological disease.
Mindset’s research involved asking users if they had ever been diagnosed with a concussion and giving them the option to affirm, deny or answer “I don’t know.” Those who affirmed were directed to state whether they had had more or less than five diagnosed concussions. Those who answered “I don’t know” were excluded from the study.
Participants were also asked if they had neurological conditions. Available responses included ‘brain cancer’, ‘epilepsy’, ‘multiple sclerosis’, ‘stroke’, ‘dementia’, ‘migraines’, ‘Parkinson’s’, and ‘other’. Groups large enough to separate into single groups for analysis included ‘other’ (130), ‘migraines’ (38) and ‘epilepsy’ (25). By a significant margin, the largest group was ‘other’ so individual conditions were clustered into a single group.