Friday, February 17, 2017
Heading Behavior and Concussions in Soccer
As a private practitioner with Westsports Medicine in Connecticut, Dr. Stu Steinman builds on more than two decades of experience in treating acute and chronic conditions of athletes. Focused largely on safety outreach for teachers and coaches, Dr. Stu Steinman also stands out as part of the committee that helped to create Connecticut's original concussion legislation.
According to research released through the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, regular “heading” of the ball in soccer may increase a player's risk of concussion symptoms by up to 300 percent. The study followed 222 adult amateur players, who completed a series of Web-based surveys over the course of nine months.
Researchers used frequency of heading behaviors to divide participants into four groups. Those who intentionally used their heads most frequently did so approximately 125 times over the course of two weeks. The increased prevalence of concussion symptoms in this group aligns with previous findings from study author Dr. Michael Lipton, who found that athletes with more than 1,000 heading events per year were more likely to show structural changes in the brain similar to those of traumatic brain injury.
These results are particularly relevant to leaders and parents in youth sports, as the effects of a childhood concussion can be more serious than those experienced by adults. Symptoms last longer in children, and data suggests that pediatric concussions can have a long-term impact on brain development.