Can Soccer Give Young Players a Brain Injury?

Researchers and youth soccer officials are debating if heading the ball should be banned from the sport after studies show signs of traumatic brain injury.

A study from the Albert Einstein School of Medicine found that even amateur players who regularly headed the ball had poorer memories, consistent with patients who had traumatic brain injury.

An article by Canadian researchers in the journal Brain Injury stated that players who frequently headed the ball generally scored lower in several categories. Overall, these players had more trouble with memory, motor skills and conceptual thinking than players who headed less often.

In February, a Boston medical team diagnosed their first case of chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) in an American soccer player. Patrick Grange, a college soccer star from the University of New Mexico, died at the age of 29 from amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS).

Grange’s form of ALS, a motor neuron disease also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease, can be caused by repeated head trauma. It is very rare to find the disease in a person so young. Grange’s parents say he started heading the ball at the age of three.

Some studies suggest that with a lower frequency of heading the brain can heal itself, but the injuries reach a “tipping point” where they cause more permanent damage, which is around 1,800 headers per year.

Some critics of the ban point to a similar study done on football players who started playing before and after age 11. According to their findings, children under 11 are far more susceptible to traumatic brain injury than older children.

In any case, most researchers agree that the first priority is to protect the children while still promoting an interest in soccer. In younger years, the brain is still “under construction”, so parents and sports officials must do anything in their power to prevent brain damage.

I Need A Lawyer Who Handles Traumatic Brain Injuries for Children

Traumatic brain injury is a life-altering event, but it can be especially hard on children. Metier Law Firm is actively involved in child injury prevention, and we are willing to fight hard for your child’s right to be safe and happy. Call Metier Law Firm to discuss a traumatic brain injury case for you or your child. We are here to help.

[Did You Know: Girls’ soccer is the nation’s second-leading source of concussions at the high school level.]

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