As the title reads, there is a sport out there where athletes intentionally cause head injuries as part of the sport. Well, kind of. Many would think the sport we are referring to is football—but you would be incorrect. The sport, is actually soccer—known as the most popular sport in the world.
Now before everyone starts making fun of soccer players for flailing all over the pitch (field) from the slightest contact, let’s focus on just the topic at hand—head injuries. A part of the game that happens more times than I can count, are what is known as “heading.” This is where an athlete purposely while standing or jumping uses his or her head to redirect the path of the soccer ball. For those of you who played soccer are probably having an “ah ha” moment. For those of you who have never played soccer, think of someone kicking a ball at you and you can’t use your arms to stop it, so you instead use your head to move and redirect the ball. Many times, that ball can be coming at quite a bit of speed. Therein lies the problem.
There are other ways, however, that soccer players can incur head injuries, such as by colliding with another player or by their head hitting the grass/turf. Researchers are now seeing signs that soccer players are showing an increase in concussion-like symptoms which they believe is from heading. While the research being spoken of can’t definitively say if heading can cause any brain damage or long-term effects, they can say for certain that heading can induce a concussion or just concussion-like symptoms in the short-term. For that reason, researchers went out in search of answers to the question how often is this happening and how bad the symptoms truly are from heading a soccer ball.