Headgear Debate Heats Up

July 2, 2018

A study from the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons has prompted doctors to consider whether to recommend requiring headgear for girls who play soccer. According to the Herald-Dispatch, the study, conducted in 2017, analyzed data from a 10-year period and concluded that female soccer players are at greater risk of concussions than male players. 

Dr. Andy Gilliard, a team physician for Marshall University athletics, said there were other potentially more effective methods of preventing concussions, such as wearing "a good mouthpiece," strengthening players' necks and core muscles, and teaching players not to use their heads as weapons.

"Any sport where you have a rapid change in the pace will result in concussions happening," Gilliland said. "Parent, coach and player education I think I am much more in favor of."

Erin Wingate, an athletic trainer for Cabell Midland, said that headgear may not always help prevent concussions.

"Headgear could help prevent some concussions, but even in football, with changes to the helmets, concussions still happen," she said. "It's been proposed to change rules for (age) 8 and under, 10 and under even all the way up to 16 and under girls that they can't head the ball. I'd be in favor of that as opposed to jumping the gun and forcing everyone to wear headgear."

Mike Arrington, a Kentucky soccer coach and referee who had a concussion when he played soccer, said he believes headgear should be required.

"Even though there's evidence to support (that) it doesn't do anything to prevent concussions, I would prefer something be in place -- though I do think the mouthpiece is more effective," he said. "As a coach, I don't coach headers because the repetitive practice is bad. I support the headgear rule because the padding is there for those situations when players meet head-to-head."

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