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Andrew Coombs, a former Welsh football player, has been diagnosed with dementia at the age of 39.

39-year-old Andrew Coombs, a retired Welsh football player, has revealed that he has been diagnosed with dementia and is likely suffering from chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE).

Coombs is one of the 295 retired rugby union players who have brought a legal claim against three of the sport’s governing bodies alleging they sustained brain injuries during their careers. The former Newport back-row, who won the Six Nations in 2013, issued a lengthy statement on social media.

“I am reaching out to inform you of some personal news that has greatly affected both myself and my loved ones,” he stated on X. “Approximately eight months ago, I received a diagnosis of dementia and likely chronic traumatic encephalopathy after experiencing symptoms for approximately four years.”

“I first became aware of this issue while appearing on a live episode of Scrum V Sunday. The discussions on CTE symptoms struck a chord with me. It was a difficult choice to seek medical help, but it was crucial to understand the changes happening in my body. The diagnosis was devastating, but it provided answers to the questions that had been troubling me for a long time.”

On Friday, it was announced that Phil Vickery, the ex-England captain, and Gavin Henson, the former Wales fly-half, have chosen to reveal their identities as part of a legal case against World Rugby, the Rugby Football Union, and the Welsh Rugby Union.

Attorneys representing the athletes claim that the authorities did not adequately ensure the safety of players against harm resulting from repeated hits, resulting in long-term neurological damage such as dementia, Parkinson’s disease, and CTE.

The 295 individuals involved in this case are seeking compensation, claiming that the governing bodies were negligent and did not fulfill their responsibility to ensure the players’ well-being by implementing appropriate safety measures. However, the governing bodies have denied these allegations and have criticized the players’ lawyers for not providing necessary medical records and causing delays in the proceedings.

In his statement, Coombs expressed doubt towards those in charge of addressing the health hazards of repeated head injuries and concussions. He acknowledges that not everyone may understand his choice to participate in legal action, but he is unable to divulge his personal experiences that influenced this decision, which could have shed more light on the matter.

Although I am saddened by my diagnosis, my determination persists and, oddly enough, the diagnosis has provided a sense of relief and understanding, as it has given me solutions to many of my uncertainties.

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I am striving to embrace my true self, living life to the maximum, and not letting my condition harm my mental well-being.

The World Rugby, RFU, and WRU released a statement saying that they are dedicated to being at the forefront of promoting well-being in sports. This is based on the latest scientific research to ensure the safety and well-being of players at every level.

Source: theguardian.com