Brain injuries in sports have gotten a great deal of media attention recently, as new research shows that concussions can, and frequently do, cause lifelong brain injuries. As a result, boy's football teams have tightened up their policies regarding head injuries, and the NFL has paid more than half a billion of dollars to players suffering from repeated concussions.
While these are undoubtedly steps in the right direction, many are wondering how the new medical research into concussions applies to other sports. After all, boy's football isn't the only high impact sport.
In fact, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, girls' soccer reports the second-greatest number of concussions each year.
Girls' soccer has increased in popularity in recent years, which has led to an increase in competition and a higher level of intensity among players. As a result, many female players are suffering concussions - 29,167 in 2007, a number surpassed only by boys' football.
These concussions can have serious short and long-term consequences for players. One female athlete missed two weeks of school following a serious brain injury on the playing field last spring. She wasn't aware she had a concussion and the coaching staff failed to spot any warning signs. Even after her return to school, she said she suffered from problems concentrating and hypersensitivity to light, issues that caused a drop in her grade point average.
As we come to understand more about the risk factors associated with concussions, it becomes even more important for youth organizations to identify head injuries on the playing field. Sports teams have a responsibility to maintain the safety of their players. That means teams should be educated about the dangers of head injuries and have policies in place that can identify those injuries and mitigate the damages they can cause. Failure to do so could be seen as a breach of this vital responsibility.
The Times Herald, "Concussions in girls: Awareness hits home with female athletes" Caroline Sweeney, Oct. 20, 2013