Until recently, many believed that American football has been the biggest risk for potentially damaging head injuries in athletes, but new research by the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons states that female athletes, in particular soccer players, suffer concussions at a “significantly higher,” rate than male athletes.
The study tracked concussions in different sports from 2005 to 2015 and reported that girls were 12.1 percent more likely to sustain a concussion than boys across all sports.
How come girls’ soccer is a bigger risk? Here are three explanations behind the research:
Heading the ball in soccer is the act of using one’s head to redirect the ball. As soccer has become more popular concussions have been on the rise, and some organizations have called a ban to heading.
While heading is a risk due to multiple sub-concussive hits causing potential long-term damage research conducted by the Colorado School of Public Health found that player-to-player contact was the most common reason for concussions in both boys and girls.
The findings suggest that the best way to reduce concussions in soccer is to crack down on the athlete-to-athlete contact that referees tolerate in the game. As the sport has also seen an increase in aggressive playing, there is a need for setting an example of safe play and strict regulations to provide a safer environment.
Concussion experts Doctor Meehan and doctor Cronin, who are featured in the in MomsTEAM's PBS documentary, “The Smartest Team; Making High School Football Safer,” believe that the difference in small mean neck strength between genders put girls at an increased risk of concussions.
Neck strengthening programs and systems such as our partners at CerviFit may be an effective concussion prevention mechanism. Studies have shown that stronger necks decrease head acceleration, rapid change in velocity and displacement after a collision. Building neck strength in athlete’s and teams is a good practice in lower the risk of concussions in both girls and boys.
Lack of protective equipment
While helmets may not become standard in soccer, impact measuring wearable devices, such as our Cue Sport Sensor, may give athletes and coaches the information they need to make safer decisions.
There are two types of risky head injuries in soccer. Concussions have been getting the press but equally important are sub-concussive brain injuries, which are caused by minor but continuous hits to the head. The scary thing about these injuries is that they are basically asymptomatic and often result in continued play and a risk at a more serious injury.
The Cue Sport Sensor not only provides coaches, athletes and parents real-time alerts of severe hits to the head but also an alert of multiple hits that may increase the players risk of injury. Staying ahead of such information is an extra tool to keep players safer and lower the risk of serious head injuries.