soccer concussion

Apparently so according to a new research coming from the United Kingdom, but luckily ‘the changes are temporary’. The study is from the University of Stirling and they identified that heading a football can cause ‘significant’ changes in brain structure and function from a single routine practice session.

The study included amateur football players between 19 and 25, who headed a ball that was fired from a machine intended to replicate the pace and power of a corner. They were asked to perform a rotational header 20 consecutive times during a 10minute session. The researchers tested players’ brain function and memory before and immediately after the heading session. Then they were retested after 24 hours, 48 hours and two weeks.

It demonstrated an increased inhibition in the brain after just a single session of heading. Memory test performance was also reduced between 41 and 67%, with effects returning to normal within 24 hours.

These results are quite alarming when you think about it. Soccer is the most participated sport in the world, with over 265 million amateur and professionals players. A competitive player can head the ball any where between 5-15 times per game and at a far greater speed and power than those in the practice session.

As Dr. Angus Hunter from the University of Stirling in Scotland mentions in a statement about the new results, “We hope these findings will open up new approaches for detecting, monitoring and preventing cumulative brain injuries in sport. We need to safeguard the long term health of football players at all levels, as well as individuals involved in other contact sports.”

It is very important where we can to protect the health of all individuals involved in contact sports. Player safety and injury prevention for our athletes should be our number one priority and hopefully this research will help.


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Thomas G. Di Virgilio, Angus Hunter, Lindsay Wilson, William Stewart, Stuart Goodall, Glyn Howatson, David I. Donaldson, Magdalena Ietswaart. Evidence for Acute Electrophysiological and Cognitive Changes Following Routine Soccer Heading. EBioMedicine, 2016; DOI: 10.1016/j.ebiom.2016.10.029

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