Concussion strikes not only male football players, but athletes of both sexes in almost every sport. Youth soccer has become increasingly popular over the past several years, and more girls are playing the game than ever before. Currently, girls make up 48 percent of the more than 3 million soccer player registered in US Youth Soccer leagues.
Hundreds of girls across America suffer concussions while playing soccer each year. “People who think of concussions as only being present mostly in guys and mostly in the sport of football are just plain wrong, Soccer is right at the top of the list for girls.” Robert Cantu, MD, Chief of Neurosurgical Service and Director Service of Sports Medicine at Emerson Hospital in Concord, MA, stated recently in a recent Rock Center with Brian Williams report. According to Cantu, the country is in the middle of a “concussion crisis” with girls reporting almost twice the number of concussions as boys in sports played by both sexes.
Girls soccer has the second highest rate of reported concussions in young athletes according to another recent study in The American Journal of Sports Medicine. Heading in soccer is a major cause of concussion. When heading, players use their head to direct an airborne ball, often jumping in a group, which can cause collisions between players, strained necks, and banged heads.
Dr. Cantu says that the act of heading is one of the most dangerous parts of soccer and has recommended heading be eliminated from youth soccer under the age of 14. He also stated girls are more susceptible to concussion as a result of their anatomy. “Girls as a group have far weaker necks. The same force delivered to a girl’s head spins the head much more because of the weak neck than it does the guys.”
“What’s happening in this country is an epidemic of concussions, number one, and the realization that many of these individuals are going to go on to post-concussion syndrome, which can alter their ability to function at a high level for the rest of their lives,” Dr. Cantu said.
Trends in Concussion Incidence in High School Sports, Andrew E. Lincoln, ScD, et al, American Journal of Sports Medicine, January 2011, Vol. XX, No. X.
Epidemiology of Concussions Among United States High School Athletes in 20 Sports, Mallika Marar, et al, The American Journal of Sports Medicine, April 2012, Vol. 40, No. 4.