Soccer head injuries: the 7 facts you need to know
Jul 31, 2018
Jul 31, 2018
Recent studies concluded that soccer head injuries are on the rise. In high school, girls' and boys' soccer are the second and third most dangerous sports for concussions, preceded only by football. Things get worse in college- according to NCAA studies, the rate of head injuries in women's soccer is even greater than football's. Soccer also exposes the head to cuts and bruises- less scary, but quite common and painful. According to a World Cup study, there is one head injury per game, on average.
While concussions get most of the attention, there are 3 different types of head injuries. First, "superficial" injuries (like cuts and bruises) affect the surface of the head without affecting the brain. Second, full-blown concussions (by far the scariest) are caused by intense impact that rattles the brain inside the skull, causing harm that can be long-lasting. Thirdly, the less talked about sub-concussive hits: caused by lighter hits like heading the ball, rattling the brain with less force. These hits pose a threat to the way the brain functions over the following 1-2 days.
Full-blown soccer concussions can be even more damaging that concussions in football: studies show that soccer players are twice more likely than football players to require 22+ days of recovery. Furthermore, heading the ball can damage your ability to see and remember for 24-48 hours: recent studies by University of Stirling show that after heading the ball players exhibit severely impaired performances in memory, planning, and visual perceptions.
While head injuries affect both genders, they are reported even more prevalently in girls soccer. Head injuries represent 15% of all girls soccer injuries (vs. 10% for boys), and some studies show that concussions can be 2x more likely to happen to a girl than a boy (studies debate the underlying reason, which is sometimes attributed to difference in neck strength).
According to a University of Colorado study, more than 1 in 4 concussions occur when players used their heads to hit the ball. But more than half of these heading-related concussions were caused by collisions with another player rather than with the ball. These collisions included head-to-head, elbow-to-head and shoulder-to-head contact.
While there is no "silver bullet" that can reduce ALL risks of head injuries in soccer (even banning headers is a mere band-aid), Virginia Tech Helmet Lab recently concluded that soccer headgear can indeed dramatically reduce the risk of concussions. This is a first major finding. Furthermore, UW Madison is finalizing the largest field study with 3,000 high school players: results will come out in Fall 2018, and confirm the extent to which headgear can reduce all types of head injuries for both boys and girls soccer.
In its pioneering study, Virginia Tech concluded that no head guard on the market protects players more than the Storelli ExoShield Head Guard, with an estimated 84% reduction in head injuries. Why is it the best? Because its patented technology embeds the same type of foam used in US military helmets. It also complies with ASTM / FIFA / NFHS standards, fits both men and women, and is sleekly designed for a minimalist look. This is why it was also recently chosen as the Official Head Protection of US Club Soccer and it's the go-to choice for world-class pro clubs around the world.