New study shows that girls soccer has higher per capita rate of concussions than any other sport

The J.L. Mann girls soccer team. (Photo: Greenville News)

When you think of prep sports concussions, you almost certainly think of football first. Yet a new study shows that football barely has the second-highest per capita rate of concussions and traumatic brain injuries among all health setbacks in a specific high school sports. The top number? Girls soccer, by a significant amount.

The findings from the study “Sport- and Gender-specific Trends in the Epidemiology of Concussions Suffered by High School Athletes” found that roughly 27 percent of all injuries suffered by girls soccer players are traumatic brain injuries (TBI). That’s a staggering percentage, particularly for a sport that also features a high incidence rate of knee injuries and other concerns.

The study, led by Dr. Wellington Hsu, professor of orthopaedics at Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine, was presented at the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS) annual conference.

From the study: To our knowledge, this is the first study to report that concussions now account for a higher proportion of injuries in girls soccer than boys football. The concussion rate for girls soccer is also increasing rapidly, and is now nearly tied with boys football and 3-fold higher than boys soccer.

To put that 27 percent in perspective, football injuries feature a 24 percent correlation between brain injuries and overall injuries. That percentage is almost identical to the one for girls basketball and the one for boys soccer, with each of those sports approximately one percentage point behind the prior sport on the list.

Equally notable was the fact that concussions are apparently on the rise across all sports, with many rates essentially doubling following the introduction of TBI laws.

While much of that is clearly due to increased awareness, there’s little question that concussions within the sport of girls soccer are on the rise, which may finally adjust perceptions about what constitutes a dangerous sport.

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