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St Helens legend James Graham gives harrowing insight into brain damage as well as some positive news

James Graham is one of the toughest players to ever take to a rugby league field.

A Grand Finalist in both England and Australia, a treble winner in 2006, an England international and well loved by St Helens, Canterbury and St George fans, Graham was always in the thick of it in every game he played thanks to his no nonsense approach.

However, as head injuries becomes a more focused on topic in light of modern research, Graham, a player who suffered more than his fair share of head knocks leading to an estimated 100 concussions, has chosen to try and educate people on head injuries to help them protect themselves. He has done so with his exciting new podcast Head Noise.

As he tries to shed light on the topic, Graham chose to get an MRI the other week which sadly revealed he had damaged his brain.

He passed neurological tests, but in the MRI there were worrying signs and speaking in the Daily Telegraph, Graham shed further light on these: “As my neurologist Dr Rowena Mobbs explained, my frontal lobe (the front) and the parietal (the side part behind the frontal lobe) on the right side of my brain were all down on volume for a man my age. “Mildly so” Dr Mobbs tells me, but enough to say it‘s “significant”.

“There was also an irregularity in the middle area of my brain – what is called the white matter – white spots are showing up particularly on the left side. The white matter part of the brain is for transmission, it’s like a freeway. These ‘white spots’, or lesions, indicate tiny areas of signal change – migraines can cause these but so can “head trauma”.

“As I sit in Dr Mobbs’ office I ask if I was still playing (I only retired at the end of 2020 and for the record I have no ambition to return) what would she advise? Without a pause Dr Mobbs says; “to stop playing”.”

Graham did state he wasn’t looking for sympathy and also revealed that Mobbs didn’t diagnose him with a CTE injury nor were their signs of early-on-set dementia, but these details are still quite harrowing.

Credit has to go to the former St Helens man for having the guts to make all this information public as he tries to help others help themselves.

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