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Girls' Soccer: Concussion Risk

High School Girls' Soccer Ranks Right Behind Boys' Football for Concussions
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WebMD Health News
Reviewed by Louise Chang, MD

Oct. 2, 2007 -- Researchers report that among high school soccer players, concussions are more commonly reported in girls than boys.

Their findings include:

  • Concussions are more commonly reported for girls than boys in high school and college sports played by both sexes.
  • Girls' soccer ranks second only to boys' football for reported concussions among the high school sports studied.

Those findings are due to appear in the winter edition of the Journal of Athletic Training.

The researchers included Dawn Comstock, PhD, of Ohio State University and Nationwide Children's Hospital in Columbus, Ohio.

Student Athletes' Concussions

Comstock's team focused on nine sports: boys' football, soccer, basketball, wrestling, and baseball; and girls' soccer, volleyball, basketball, and softball.

The researchers reviewed data on student athletes' injuries for those sports at 100 U.S. high schools and 180 U.S. colleges during the 2005-2006 school year.

Every week, the schools' athletic trainers reported injuries sustained during practice or competition that required medical attention and restricted the athlete's play for at least a day.

The data show a grand total of 4,431 injuries -- roughly 9% of which were concussions -- among the high school athletes.

The top four sports for concussions were:

  • Football
  • Girls' soccer
  • Boys' soccer
  • Girls' basketball

The No. 1 concussion cause for all nine sports: Contact with another player. For soccer players -- girls and boys alike -- heading a soccer ball was also risky.

The overall findings also held true for the college athletes.

Girls at More Risk?

Comstock and colleagues weren't standing on the sidelines at practices and games, screening players for concussions.

It's possible that athletic trainers paid more attention to girls' injuries or that boys were less likely to report symptoms.

"Traditionally, U.S. society has tended to be more protective of female athletes," write the researchers. "This may lead coaches, athletic trainers, and parents to treat head injuries in female athletes more seriously or to delay their return to play."

Playing hurt or rushing back from injury is a bad call, Comstock's team notes.

They urge people to take athletes' head injuries seriously and allow adequate recovery time, regardless of the player's sex.

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