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World Neurosurg. 2012 Nov;78(5):535-44. doi: 10.1016/j.wneu.2011.10.032. Epub 2011 Nov 1.

Concussions in soccer: a current understanding.

Author information

  • 1Division of Pediatric Neurosurgery Rady Children's Hospital of San Diego, San Diego, CA, USA. mlevy@rchsd.org

Abstract

OBJECTIVE:

Traumatic brain injury (TBI) is a significant public health problem in the United States, with approximately 1.5-2 million TBIs occurring each year. However, it is believed that these figures underestimate the true toll of TBI. Soccer is the most popular sport in the world and has a following of millions in the United States. Soccer is a sport not traditionally identified as high-risk for concussions, yet several studies have shown that concussion rates in soccer are comparable to, and often exceed those of, other contact sports. As many as 22% of all soccer injuries are concussions.

METHODS:

Soccer is a sport not traditionally identified as high risk for concussions, yet several studies have shown that concussion rates in soccer are comparable to, and often exceed those of, other contact sports. As many as 22% of all soccer injuries are concussions. Head injury during soccer is usually the result of either "direct contact" or contact with the ball while "heading" the ball. Relationships between the number of headers sustained in a single season and the degree of cognitive impairment (attention and visual/verbal memory) have been demonstrated. It is also likely that multiple concussions may cause cumulative neuropsychologic impairment in soccer players.

RESULTS:

Although our understanding of risk factors for sports-related concussions is far from complete, there is great potential for prevention in sports-related concussions. Several measures must be taken to avert the development of concussions in soccer and, when they take place, reduce their effects. These include the development and testing of effective equipment during play, the maintenance of regulatory standards for all such equipment, educating young athletes on the safe and appropriate techniques used during play, and strict adherence to the rules of competition.

CONCLUSIONS:

In spite of such preventive measures, concussions in soccer will continue to occur. Considering the frequency of concussions in soccer, the serious sequelae of these concussions, and because almost half of concussed soccer players were noncompliant with recommended American Academy of Neurology return-to-play guidelines, further measures must be taken to protect players, in addition to understanding those criteria that result in removing an injured player from competition and the steps by which to safely return an athlete to competition after injury.

Copyright © 2012 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

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PMID:
22120567
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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