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Sub-concussive brain injuries in Football – dangers for women and children
We have seen a recent surge in concern over concussion in Rugby and now the same seems to be happening in Football. There have been a couple of reports recently that are highlighting the dangers to the brain from heading a football.
Fifpro, the world player’s union, predicted that the issue would engulf the sport following a number of players suffering concussions during the World Cup in Brazil last year.
Research into women’s soccer in the US showed that the force of heading back goals kicks registered a similar amount of force (50- 100g) as punches thrown by boxers or American Football players crashing into each other. The gravest concern being that at college level soccer players were getting hit day in and day out taking blow after blow to their brains because of how often they practice.
A football shouldn’t necessarily be dangerous. But if you head away thunderbolt shots or goalkeeper’s clearances regularly there is a risk that the brain can suffer several sub-concussive injuries – those impacts with no readily observable symptoms that can cause injury to the brain.
These can even be more serious than heavy collisions which leave players foggy and groggy. As Nauman, the lead researcher explains, “If you actually compare the brains of people who have taken lots of sub-concussive hits to ones that have taken a single big hit, the sub-concussive brains often look worse. I don’t think people appreciate that yet.”
In light of this the US Soccer Federation has announced that it will be issuing guidelines to limit the amount of headers 11 to 13 years olds can take in training and ban them altogether for young children. Children are more susceptible to head injuries as their heads are disproportionately large and their neck muscles are not strong enough to brace against the impact, this means that the brain is shaken around in the cranium more.
The brain does not have any pain-receptors so unlike any other part of the body it is difficult to know when it needs to rest. If you bruise any other part of your body then you know to take it easy because of the increased pain levels, the same cannot be said for the brain.
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