Study: “Heading” a Soccer Ball Can Lead to Concussion Symptoms

Reuters reports on a recent study published in the Official Journal of the American Academy of Neurology. It examined health problems that can arise in soccer players who utilize the technique of “heading.”

Details on the Study on “Heading” in Soccer

The study was led by Dr. Michael Lipton, a neuroscientist at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine. The study found that soccer players had an increased risk of concussion-like symptoms if they used their head to hit the ball, a technique known as “heading.”

Researchers surveyed adult amateur soccer players around New York City. The survey participants were between the ages of 18 and 55 and 80% were men.

They asked the survey participants questions about how often they played soccer, how often they use their head to hit the ball, and if they took any unintentional hits to the head.

The survey also asked them if they had experienced any negative symptoms like pain, dizziness, and unconsciousness.

About 20% of participants reported moderate to severe concussion-like symptoms.

Compared to those reporting the least amount of accidental hits to the head, the participants who reported the most were six times more likely to experience negative symptoms.

Players who headed the ball frequently were more than three times as likely to experience symptoms compared to those who reported doing it infrequently.

Findings of this study contradict previous research suggesting concussion-like symptoms were caused by accidental collisions and not heading.

Reasons to Conduct Further Research on Heading Soccer Balls and Concussions

  • The participants were only surveyed for short-term symptoms. The study does not address potential long-term consequences.
  • Even though soccer is the most popular sport in the world, concussions in soccer are understudied compared to football.
  • Technological advances like helmet sensors will continue to make research easier.

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