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As Popularity of Girls Soccer Grows, Concussions Climb, Too

Posted on: May 15th, 2012 by Romanucci & Blandin

It’s a perfect day for girl’s soccer. The young athletes on the field are energized, ready to play their hardest, and not to disappoint the parents and friends who are counting on them. Underlying this wholesome picture on high school soccer fields and local parks is an epidemic: the rising number of concussions suffered by girl players.

As far back as 2007, The Journal of Athletic Training reported, “in high school soccer, girls sustained concussions 68 percent more often than boys did.” Additionally, the Journal found that “girls also took longer for their symptoms to resolve and return to play.”

Since that story appeared, the problem has continued. Just last week, in a May 9 report on the MSNBC television show, Rock Center with Brian Williams, a teen revealed symptoms mirrored by girl soccer players throughout the U.S. Included in her complaints were telltale signs of concussion, which could include: dizziness, lethargy, disorientation, and blurred vision.

Dr. Bob Cantu, chairman of the surgery division and director of sports medicine at Emerson Hospital in Concord, Mass., says we are in the midst of “a concussion crisis” and warns “many of these individuals are going to go on to post-concussion syndrome, which can alter their ability to function at a high level for the rest of their lives.”

Some contend one of the reasons for the rise is that concussions in women are not pursued with the same caution as men. Others point to the fact that girls’ neck muscles are less developed than boys’, thus providing less shock absorption during impact.

There are those who say that concussions are caused by heading the ball. Others disagree. They point to hard falls to the ground or collisions with other players. Heading the ball, they say, does not make an impact with sufficient force “to send the brain crashing into the skull.”

Padded headbands to lessen the forces of many blows are controversial, too. Some believe headgear fosters more aggressive play.

The issue is likely to continue plaguing the sport because like most young athletes, girls are as competitive as boys, and they don’t want to miss playing time, so they push through concussions. They want to please their coaches, their fans, and their parents. And, they never want to let their team down.

Published by the Chicago personal injury attorneys at Romanucci & Blandin

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