It only makes sense, right? The more contact you make with your head the more it will rattle your noggin. It then follows that soccer players would be the most likely candidates of concussion suffering.
A recent study by the medical journal of the American Academy of Neurology analyzed soccer players whose heads were hit in a collision two or more times in a two-week period. These players were six times more likely to experience concussion symptoms than players who did not undergo any unintentional head trauma.
The specific group that was involved in the study were adult amateur soccer players who competed at least six months of the year. To begin, they completed an online questionnaire about how often they played the sport during the previous two weeks, how many times they had unintentional head impacts and how many times they headed the ball period.
From there, participants were divided into four groups depending on how often they headed the ball. The top group headed the ball an average of 125 times in two weeks while the bottom group headed the ball four times in two weeks.
222 players completed 470 questionnaires, 79 percent of whom were men. These men had an average of 44 headers in two weeks and women had an average of 27. One or more unintentional head impacts were felt by 37 percent of men and 43 percent of women.
20 percent of those head impacts led to moderate or severe concussion symptoms, while seven individuals suffered predominantly severe symptoms.
Dr. Michael Lipton, senior author of the study and professor of radiology and of psychiatry behavioral sciences at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine, expressed just how important it was for him to conduct this study: “There’s like over a quarter of a billion people in the world who play soccer, and most of those people are the kind of people we study.”
The problem with soccer is that headers are inevitable. There’s really no way to change that fact. It’s like telling basketball players not to jump for a rebound so they won’t roll their ankles. Part of the challenge of sports is the element of danger.
Associate Professor Anthony Kontos, an avid soccer player in his own right, points out many of the flaws with this study. He says that it fails to take into account players with a history of concussions as well as missing the exact amount of headers a player has hit. Very few players know how many headers they hit in a given match.