Jul 15, 2015Study: Player Contact Behind Most HS Soccer Concussions
A new study has found that the major cause of concussions in high school soccer players is contact with another player, not contact with the ball. The study, which used data from 2005 to 2014 from a large national sample, gives support to those who oppose banning headers in high school soccer.
R. Dawn Comstock, Ph.D., of the Colorado School of Public Health, along with her colleagues, found that heading accounts for 30.6 percent of concussions in boys and 25.6 percent of concussions in girls. But in the majority of those heading-related concussions, it was contact with another player that caused the injury—in 78.1 percent of boys’ concussions and 61.9 percent of girls’, according to a summary of the study at sciencedaily.com.
“We found that heading is the activity in soccer during which most concussions occur among both boys and girls,” Comstock told U.S. News and World Report. “But if you look closely, it’s not generally the impact of the ball to the head that leads to concussion. The vast majority of the time it’s the athlete-to-athlete contact that happens during [heading] that causes the concussion.”
“So, yes, if you eliminate heading in soccer you would definitely reduce concussions,” Comstock continued. “But soccer is not actually a full-contact sport. And there are rules of the game that already exist that penalize the kind of dangerous out-of-position contested heading that results in athlete-to-athlete contact. If you just enforce these rules you would dramatically reduce aggressive body contact, and dramatically lower the concussion rate, without having to change the culture of the sport by eliminating heading itself.”
68.8 percent and 51.3 percent of overall concussions in boys and girls, respectively, were caused by player-to-player contact. Other findings include a higher rate of concussions among girls, with 4.5 concussions per 10,000 practice or game exposures compared to 2.78 concussions for boys.