The potential for traumatic brain injury in professional football players is again raising public concern. But another, less followed sport is seeing a troubling increase in the rate of concussions among its players.
More girls are playing on soccer teams than ever before, but they now beat the boys when it comes to their risk of serious head injury on the field. A study by Northwestern University found that a higher proportion of injuries girls suffer playing soccer are concussions --as opposed to ankle sprains or other injuries. And it’s not just the percentage that’s worrisome; the rate of concussions among girls is three times higher than it is for boys’ soccer and just about even with boys football.
Engineering Professor Stefan Duma studies sports impact and injury at Virginia Tech.
“We don’t know exactly why that is and that’s a big part of the research question now. Is it about a mechanical difference, is it a chemical difference, is it how we diagnose the differences? To me, that’s where the really big questions are why I talk about all sports and all genders and we need to have a lot more data to make some decisions. “
Duma is in involved in several studies aimed at understanding youth sports impacts. Including testing helmets for a variety of sports, from cycling to soccer. Results will be released later this fall.