Our young athletes in Carlsbad and North County San Diego, especially soccer and football players, are particularly vulnerable to concussion. This issue is particularly important to me; my daughter sustained a Grade 2 concussion as a result of a skiing injury. I feel parental education regarding concussion awareness is tremendously important. Middle school sports are more rigorous and ambitious than ever before. More physical demands, practice times, and pressures are placed on athletes and the path to perfection is often paved with injuries.
One of the most popular sports, globally, is soccer. Children can begin playing as early as Kindergarten. While the sport is fun, good exercise, and a foundation for learning sportsmanship, it can also be damaging to young bodies.
Soccer injuries can range from something as mild as a small bruise to something as major as a concussion. Knee pain, calf pain, and ankle pain are commonly associated with soccer players. Some injuries, like a torn ACL (anterior cruciate ligament) or torn meniscus requires a visit to an orthopedic surgeon for knee pain treatment and possible knee surgery. These types of injuries that occur in younger athletes may affect them their entire lives. Shin splints, which occur from overuse, stress and bone fractures, wrist sprains and fractures, and even painful shoulder dislocations can occur due to playing soccer.
One especially serious injury from playing soccer is a concussion. A concussion is a traumatic brain injury that occurs when a person is hit hard enough for the brain to shake inside the skull. This can happen during a sport, a fall, or other types of hard hits. Many people assume a loss of consciousness is needed for a concussion, but this is not true. Symptoms of a concussion include confusion, dizziness, headaches, nausea, vomiting, changed sleep patterns, change of emotional state, and sensitivity to light. Any symptoms of a concussion should be discussed with a doctor as soon as possible.
Of all the sports for female middle school athletes, soccer causes the most concussions. High school female athletes have double the amount of concussions per year than male high school athletes. A study was conducted from 2008 to 2012 that focused on 351 advanced female soccer players between the ages of 11 and 14. During this study, there were 59 concussion reported, which is about 17% of the players.
Because of the high amount of concussions, a class action lawsuit was filed against FIFA (Fédération Internationale de Football Association), along with U.S. Soccer Organization and the American Youth Soccer Organization. This lawsuit, as reported by The New York Times (8/28, Strauss), The Washington Post (8/27, Payne) and the Los Angeles Times (8/28, Baxter) among others, states that the groups have not acted responsibly in terms of monitoring concussions and head injuries.
The lawsuit was filed by parents and players and are asking for a change in the soccer rules. They ask that children under 17 be limited to the number of times to head a ball, and to allow substitutions for anyone being examined for a possible head injury, rather than limiting the number of substitutions in a game. While some are skeptical that new rules will make a difference, we can only wait and see. As an orthopedic surgeon and sports medicine specialist, I back such legislation and policy change.
If you have questions or concerns about your child and their sports preparedness, feel free to reach out to our top notch Orthopedic Surgery San Diego sports medicine specialists.