AURORA, Colo. (AP) — A group of scientists checked a decade’s worth of data about what causes concussions in high school soccer. Their conclusion: While a ban on heading would help decrease head injuries, what the game really needs is better enforcement of rules restricting all sorts of player-to-player contact.
A paper published Monday by a group of Denver-area doctors sheds a different light on what results might come from a campaign led by Brandi Chastain and other women soccer stars to ban headers for players 14 and under.
The paper, appearing in JAMA Pediatrics, was based on data collected since 2005 involving more than 1,000 high school soccer concussions. It concluded that by banning heading in youth soccer, about 30 percent of concussions could be avoided, but that a far larger decrease could be possible if rules that limit player-to-player contact were more stringently enforced.
“A lot of people felt, if we could get a ban on heading, we could keep some people safe,” said Dawn Comstock, an epidemiologist with the Colorado School of Public Health at the University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus. “My question was, is there any evidence out there that supports that?”
Coinciding with the women’s World Cup, a group of concussion experts teamed with Chastain and other women soccer players to make a big public push for the Safer Soccer initiative. They cited a study that tracked 59 concussions suffered by junior-high girls in Washington State and concluded that about 30 percent of those injuries could be eliminated if heading were banned. That extrapolates to a potential of around 100,000 concussions avoided over a three-year period.