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Football used in dementia therapy

In Britain a "remarkable" project has seen football being used to stimulate the memories of dementia sufferers, and it is hoped the therapy could now be adopted around the world, according to a university.

The project, in which men were shown football memorabilia, produced "startling" results, researchers at Glasgow Caledonian University said. Match photographs and programmes were used as the basis for discussions, and the study found men were able to chat about their memories of players and games with others.

Interest in the pilot initiative has been expressed by researchers in other countries, including Canada, where a similar study using ice hockey for discussions is being considered.

Glasgow Caledonian University Scottish Centre for Evidence Based Care of Older People director Debbie Tolson said: "This was a fascinating study that revealed impressive results.

"The men's life-long interest in football connected them to their former selves and shared memories. There is very little provided specifically for men with dementia and this is a welcome and positive innovation.

"We have had a tremendous response to this research, with Canada considering adopting the same principle with ice hockey. At the moment, I am gathering together a group of researchers to mount a proposal to roll out the concept to other European countries."

The project has been conducted by the university together with the Scottish Football Museum, Alzheimer Scotland and member clubs of the Scottish Football Heritage Network.

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Glasgow Caledonian University