Youth: 7 Soccer Concussion Myths - Proven or Debunked

Feb 28, 2021

*This article is part of an educational series for soccer parents and players new to soccer*

Concussions and head injuries are tricky things. They often don’t present how we expect them to, and much is still unknown into how our brains respond to traumatic injuries. Coaches, players and parents need to understand the risks and how to reduce injuries in young players. Concussions can also be life-threatening and lead to long-term cognitive damage, especially for young players. 

The new research focused on preventing head injuries in soccer can shed new light on these all too common injuries. Although we’ve come a long way, there is still a lot to learn about exactly how to prevent head injuries and what causes them.  This post will look at what the research has to say about soccer concussions, debunk some of the common myths and misconceptions, and discuss the best way to reduce the risk. 

What Happens To Your Brain In A Concussion?

Our brains are made up of soft, vulnerable, mushy tissue connected by nerves and blood vessels, and all encased in a hard bone shell skull for protection. When we get bumped, or fall or hit our heads onto something hard, the impact causes this soft tissue to smash against the skull’s hard bone surface. This can cause:

  • Bruising - bruising causes inflammation, swelling and some bleeding. When this happens to your brain, the extra fluid and inflammation take up space and cut off circulation to your blood vessels, reducing the oxygen getting to your other brain cells.
  • Damaged Nerve Cells - The force of the impact can damage the nerve cells in your brain. This means that they aren’t as efficient at sending messages to other parts of your brain and body and may have to find alternate routes, leading to memory loss, fatigue and difficulty sleeping and concentrating.
  • Blood Vessel Tears - the force of the impact can also cause minor tears in the blood vessels in your brain. The blood vessels are responsible for bringing a fresh blood supply of oxygen to your brain. If there is a small leak, it can mean that fluid, such as blood, is leaking into areas that it is not supposed to be. 

Here are seven of the most common soccer concussion myths. We’ll talk a bit about each one and what the new research tells us about concussion prevention. 

1. Concussions Require Medical Observation & Treatment

This is - True

People with a concussion need to be seen by a doctor. Your doctor will evaluate your signs and symptoms, review your medical history, and conduct a neurological examination. You may need to stay in the hospital for observation or may be sent home for observation. It is vital to follow all of your doctor’s instructions for follow-up care. 

If your doctor suspects a concussion, you may need additional tests to determine the severity of your injuries and see if you have any bleeding in your brain. 

2. Concussions Always Produce Symptoms

This is - False

Not everyone’s concussion symptoms are the same. Some people become angry and irritable, others have severe headaches and trouble concentrating or memory loss, but no person has precisely the same symptoms. If you feel something doesn’t feel “right,” it is essential to see your doctor.

3. You Have to Get Hit on the Head to Get a Concussion

This is  - False

Concussions can be acceleration injuries, meaning that a fall or body impact that causes an abrupt stop or switch in direction can also cause your brain to smash into your skull, causing a concussion. You don’t have to be hit on the head to get a concussion.

4. If You’re Conscious, You Didn’t Get a Concussion

This is - False

This is a common misconception. People used to think that if you didn’t lose consciousness, you don’t have a concussion, but we know now this isn’t true. With about 90% of confirmed concussions, individuals do not lose consciousness.

5. Women Are More Likely to Get Concussions Than Men

This is - True

Surprisingly, this is true. Women are twice as likely as men to get concussions, the effects are often more severe, and they take longer to recover. New research points to the fact that women historically have been overlooked in sports injury research and that the medical community often discounts women’s injuries. Other research suggests that women’s smaller and thinner neck size and anatomical differences in the brain, and even hormone fluctuations could be putting female athletes more at risk of brain injuries.

6. Symptoms of Concussions Begin Immediately After 

This is - False

When a player has a concussion, they don’t always show signs and symptoms right away. Sometimes signs only appear hours or even days after an injury. It is essential to monitor your symptoms over time and see your doctor if anything changes or feels “off.”

7. Headgear is Not Guaranteed to Prevent Concussions, but it May Help

This is - True

There are many hopeful indications that soccer headgear may help reduce the risk of soccer concussions. Headgear has been shown to reduce the risk of impact injuries to the head but cannot prevent concussions due to the brain’s internal acceleration. This is because headgear minimizes the force of the impact outside the head but cannot prevent injuries inside the brain. It can help prevent severe skull fractures and other serious head injuries.

The Storelli ExoShield Head Guard is the only headguard shown to reduce the risk of head injuries. A 3year study at the Virginia Tech Helmet Lab found that the ExoShield Head Guard lowered the rate of injuries by as much as 84%. Take a look at our product page for more information on this critical study.
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