Are Headers in Youth Soccer as Dangerous as We Thought?

Are Headers in Youth Soccer as Dangerous as We Thought?

By: HIPRC Date: March 9th, 2016


Just in time to commemorate Brain Injury Awareness Month, a team of researchers, led by HIPRC faculty member Sarah Chrisman, MD, MPH, published an article, Head Impact Exposure During a Weekend Youth Soccer Tournament, in in the Journal of Child Neurology. Published on theA young soccer player jumps into the air to head the soccer ball during a match. heels of  U.S. Soccer Federation guidelines that ban or limit youth soccer players heading, the study is the first to objectively measure the frequency and magnitude of head impacts during youth soccer games. To do so, youth soccer players were equipped with assessed pre- and post- game, and were equipped with an accelerometer to measure impacts.

Out of 17 middle school-age soccer youth, no player reported or demonstrated symptoms of brain injury. While the study was small, the authors write that  youth do incur head injuries while playing soccer, however, “given the limited amount of data regarding youth soccer and recent concerns generated regarding heading, it is reassuring that we were not able to find measureable differences in… outcomes, even in players who headed the ball frequently. While much noise is made about acute brain injury and sub-concussive head impacts, the authors suggest that further research is needed to truly understand the problem.

Additional HIPRC-based authors are Christine L. MacDonald, PhD, Seth Friedman, PhD, Jalal Andre, MD, Ali Rowhani-Rahbar, MD, PhD, MPH, Randal P. Ching, PhD, Monica S. Vavilala, MD, and Frederick P. Rivara, MD, MPH.

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