The Florida High School Athletic Association tells coaches to abide by the motto “when in doubt, sit them out!” if one of their players shows signs of a concussion.
According to the Sports Concussion Institute, soccer is one of the five leading sports that reports the most concussions and five percent of soccer players will obtain brain injuries throughout their athletic career. In high school, soccer is the largest source of concussions for females.
Barbara Morris, assistant program director of University of South Florida’s Health’s Sports Medicine and Athletic-related Trauma, works with high school athletes.
“Research has shown in soccer and basketball girls seem twice as likely to sustain concussions when compared to their male counterparts,” said Morris.
The reason for this is unknown, but may be because girls are more likely to report injury than boys, Morris said.
“I experienced my first concussion during a high school soccer game, and all I remember is seeing stars,” Jacklyn Carrillo, a USF junior, said. “I went for the ball and someone kicked me in the head so my coach walked me off the field. It was scary, but I will never let that injury keep me from playing the sport I love.”
According to Morris, concussions can be caused by blows to the head, whiplash type injuries, and/or an accumulation of small head bumps. Indications that an athlete has just suffered a concussion vary by individuals. Some symptoms are as weak as a headache while others can be as severe as death.
After the concussion, the victim may experience some short-term effects such as memory loss, trouble concentrating, problems with light and noise. In the long run, a concussion can cause symptoms similar to early dementia. Players should sit out and be medically cleared before playing again, Morris said.
In soccer, players are taught proper techniques for hitting the ball with their head to lower the probability of a concussion.
“The forehead is the one of the strongest areas of bone on the body. By hitting the ball with your forehead, you greatly reduce the risk for head and neck injury,” said Men’s Soccer Club Vice President Kurt Levin.
Obeying sporting rules and refraining from dangerous fouls also help lower the number of concussions, Levin said.