American sports are experiencing a period of evaluation, research, and criticism as numerous studies prove that athletes endure dangerous concussions that significantly threaten their health and wellbeing in the long-term. Football has undergone the most high-profile overhaul to minimize concussions and other traumatic brain injuries, and wrestling has also shared the spotlight. Sports like soccer, however, are only recently being forced to assess and revise the rules and procedures that pose a threat to players.

According to the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, female soccer athletes suffer concussions at a “significantly higher” rate than male soccer players. As Wellington Hsu, one of the study’s authors, explained, “The neck muscles of girls just aren’t as developed as boys are. So if girls experience an impact, it makes sense they might be affected by it more than boys if they don’t have the muscles to cushion that impact.”

How Can School Soccer Players Be Protected?

Experts agree that the most direct way to minimize the frequency of concussions in soccer is to enforce rules against rough play. Even though FIFA, soccer’s governing body for professional and youth leagues alike, indicates that only shoulder-to-shoulder contact is permitted, coaches, parents, and players have all allowed soccer to become a more intense contact sport as it has grown in popularity. According to Sarah K. Fields, the author of a recent study titled An Evidence-Based Discussion of Heading the Ball and Concussions in High School Soccer, “If we can enforce the rules and minimize player-to-player contact, that could get rid of 60 percent of concussions, plus that would reduce other injuries.”

Furthermore, many sports safety advocates like the Sports Legacy Institute are calling to ban heading among younger players. As a nonprofit dedicated to TBI research and prevention, the Sports Legacy Institute believes that banning heading in youth soccer can help to protect children and eliminate unnecessary injuries. Many prominent soccer players, doctors, and coaches agree.

With the right prevention, education, and enforcement of the rules, school soccer players can avoid concussion injuries and protect their overall health while still enjoying the game. NeuroInternational, a premiere TBI rehabilitation and supported living program serving Florida, Michigan, and many other states, emphasizes the importance of brain injury prevention in sports. If you or a loved one needs help with TBI recovery, give NeuroInternational a call at (941)-870-4129 to learn more about their services.