At first glance, Luuk de Jong’s recent performance for PSV is puzzling. After a 740-minute hiatus, he finally scored in the Eredivisie this weekend. How could a striker of his caliber be silent for so long? The answer might surprise you…Read more: Luuk de Jong’s Goal Drought: A Neurological Perspective
Luuk de Jong’s Unexpected Struggle
Last season, Luuk de Jong boasted 26 goals for PSV. This season? A mere 5. Why this sudden decline? Although speculation abounds, clues might lie within his brain. An interesting observation is that 6 out of 9 of his chances come from headers – a skill he’s known for. Not only in the penalty area but also receiving long passes, he uses his head. But sometimes, clashes with opponents lead to head injuries. Remember the Heerenveen match? After a heavy collision, he played on, seemingly unfazed.
The Silent Impact of Head Injuries
Recent studies, notably by Thomas Talavage from Purdue University, reveal that sports players can suffer concussions without showing obvious symptoms. By placing sensors in American Football helmets, it became clear that many endured impacts leading to concussions, unbeknownst to them. Brain scans confirmed this trauma.
Furthermore, research shows that repeated head trauma can negatively impact working memory. Football players exhibited a weaker working memory by the season’s end, exerting more effort for tasks earlier deemed easy. This could evolve into Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE), a result of multiple concussions, leading to impulse behavior, depression, and in advanced cases, dementia.
Siem de Jong, Luuk’s brother and teammate, voiced concerns, stating, “He’s had quite a few knocks over the years.” He emphasized caution.
Could these repeated traumas be affecting Luuk’s working memory, influencing his on-field focus and decision-making? This might shed light on his current season struggles. Thankfully, working memory can be trained, and there’s hope for the striker to rediscover his form.