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This article is from the In-Depth Report Science and Soccer's World Cup
60-Second Health

Concussions Abound in Soccer, Too

A meta-analysis finds that concussions accounted for between 6 and 9 percent of all injuries sustained on soccer fields. Dina Fine Maron reports

 

Concussions are a major problem in football. But brain injury is a growing concern in soccer, too, usually resulting from heading the ball or collisions. A meta-analysis of existing studies finds that concussions accounted for between 6 and 9 percent of all injuries sustained on soccer fields.
 
Most of those concussions come from when two players make for the ball, often when a player’s elbow, arm or hand inadvertently makes contact with another player’s head. But we’re not just talking about injuries to professionals.
 
One work shows some 63 percent of all varsity soccer players have sustained concussions—yet only 19 percent realized it. And another says girls’ soccer can be particularly brutal, accounting for 8 percent of all sports-related concussions among high school girls. The findings are in the journal Brain Injury. [Monica E. Maher et al., Concussions and heading in soccer: A review of the evidence of incidence, mechanisms, biomarkers and neurocognitive outcomes

Professional players who reported a great deal of extensive heading the ball during their careers did the poorest in tests of verbal and visual memory compared with other players.
 
Goalies and defenders were most likely to get concussions. So if you want to bend it like Beckham, maybe focus on playing midfield or offense. Padding the goal posts would also be a heads-up policy.

—Dina Maron

[The above text is a transcript of this podcast.]
 

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