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Kids, Soccer and Concussions

posted Feb 12, 2012, 4:15 AM by Tom Woelper
Greetings to All!

As the spring season starts to come into focus, we on the Northwest United board would like to share some thoughts about the topic above:  kids, soccer and concussions.  

As you may or may not be aware, many in the medical community believe that soccer is second only to football in terms of the incidence of concussion, or TBI (traumatic brain injury), among youth players.   

While many coaches and parents believe they are aware of concussion symptoms, best practices as regards the prevention and treatment of concussions have been changing and prompted, first by parent Mary O'Neil and second by coach and parent Gifford Miller, we are hoping to raise awareness in order to best protect our kids. Kicks to the head, impact with the other players, impact with the ground or goalposts, impact on the lower jaw, whiplash-like movement, even heading:  all are now understood to have the potential to generate TBI.  The  Center for Disease Control website (http://www.cdc.gov/concussion/HeadsUp/youth.html) provides a comprehensive overview.

Colleges and many secondary schools, including some in this area, are taking steps to aid in the diagnosis of concussions.  If a concussion is not diagnosed and consequently not treated, players are even more at risk for subsequent concussions, and many seem to feel that the compound effect of the multiple concussions is where the greatest danger for children lies.  Some authorities believe that as much as 75% of concussions are undiagnosed. The first step that many institutions have taken is the administration of a cognitive test to players of at-risk sports. This establishes a baseline to compare to a later test should a concussion be suspected.

Some of these tests are available on line.  We have located one provided by Axon Sports.  They specialize in this kind of testing and their website is very informative (www.axonsports.com)  Both the baseline and the after-injury tests are simple and quick and done with playing cards so that it functions for all ages.  The cost is $7.50 for the baseline and $7.50 for an after-injury test.  NUSC does not endorse this test in particular, and there are others available, but we wanted to give you an example of resources that you, as parents, can take advantage of. 

In addition, there are headbands now being marketed which are intended to absorb impact.  The headbands are breathable, sweat-absorbing cloth on the outside with a "polymeric layer " inside.  They are intended to protect the head as much as possible and also facilitate heading, and several of our coaches require that their own kids wear them.  

We have asked Stadium Systems to carry an impact-absorbing headband and they are, both in their store and on line when uniforms are ordered (information on that to come).  They have given the us the very good price of $10, less than many other retailers. There are other headband brands available as well and parents should feel free to choose the one they think is best.
  

As always, anyone who needs help with these expenses should feel free to get in contact with the board at this email address.

Brain injury in a child is a very scary thought.  Our board members and coaches are in agreement on the seriousness of the problem, and all that I have spoken with will be requiring their children to wear them.  Everyone must make their own decisions but we believe that if you take five minutes to look over the references in the links above, the evidence suggests that getting pro-active is the best thing to do in terms of safety.

We are excited for a tremendous spring soccer season and are committed to make it as fun and safe as possible for all of the kids in our program. 

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