Is running a soccer ball bad for the brain?

CLEVELAND – “Kicking the ball with the head” is a hallmark of professional football – but is bouncing a ball on the head bad for the brain?

According to Richard Figler, MD, of the Cleveland Clinic, contrary to popular belief, most head injuries and concussions in soccer are not actually the result of a head butt.

“It’s the act of actually going to the head of the ball, where people come into contact with each other; whether it’s head-to-head contact, head-to-elbow contact, or head-to-shoulder contact, or a knockdown and fall to the ground, this is it that the majority of concussions occur. Directing the ball itself is not a common cause of concussion in soccer. Dr Figler said.

Dr Figler said young children are at a greater risk of concussion during soccer than adolescents or adults because by nature children have smaller and weaker necks, which can affect their ability to absorb impact on the head.

This is why the United States Football Federation prohibits children under the age of 11 from directing the ball during practice or competition.

Dr Figler said delaying the ball head during training and during play is designed to allow children to grow stronger and hone their skills in order to hopefully minimize the risk of concussion. .

When it comes to protecting players of all ages, he said it all comes down to education and concussion awareness.

Previous research has shown that immediately recognizing the signs and symptoms of a concussion and removing an injured player from the pitch has a direct impact on their ability to recover quickly.

Dr Figler said players, parents and coaches need to know what to look for.

“If you see someone getting hit on the head, looking dazed, looking confused; their eyes appear veiled; stumbling after being hit, especially at a younger age, these are all signs and symptoms of concussion and you have to get them off the pitch, ”he said.

Likewise, if an athlete is affected and experiences an immediate headache, feels dizzy or light-headed, confused, or has a ringing in the ears, these are also signs that they need to stop all activity and be assessed appropriately.

Dr Figler said that if a parent has a child who is interested in soccer, it is important to make sure they have a good coach who can teach them skill development, which can minimize the risk of injury. .

He said it’s also good to remember that the benefits of playing sports – increased physical activity, social engagement, and better overall health both physically and mentally – often outweigh the risks. accompany.


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