Do you have a young daughter on the soccer team? You might want to listen up. A new study has found that young girls who play soccer may get more concussions than their high school and college peers and many of them continue to play even though they have symptoms.
There has been a lot of talk in recent years about the safety of sports for school-aged kids. Recent studies have found that high school soccer players suffer around 50,000 concussions each year. And research has also shown that soccer is the leading cause of sports-related injuries for girls.
But until now, no one was keeping track of the injuries occurring at the younger level. A new report compiled by researchers at the University of Washington's Department of Orthopaedics and Sports Medicine in Seattle and published in the Journal of American Medicine, found that 13 percent of young female soccer players suffer a concussion each season. And of those, about half keep playing even though they are experiencing symptoms of the injury.
For the study, researchers followed 351 girls agesd11 to 14 from 33 soccer teams in the Puget Sound area of Washington. They followed each girl as she played on the team over the course of four years. The researchers contacted the girls' parents weekly to ask about any hits to the head the girls may have suffered during games or practices and if those hits resulted in symptoms usually associated with concussions such as memory loss, difficulty concentrating, ringing in the ears, dizziness, headaches, and sensitivity to light or sound.
If researchers found that a girl did have concussion symptoms, they contacted her parents to ask more detailed questions about the injury, including whether or not the athlete had been to a doctor and if she continued to play with symptoms.
During the study, researchers recorded 59 concussions, including eight repeat concussions. The girls' symptoms lasted on average nine days. And while less than half of concussed girls checked in with their doctors about the injury, more than 58 percent continued to play soccer despite their symptoms.
The big concern here is long-term consequences these girls can face from suffering a concussion. Over time, an untreated brain injury can cause memory loss, difficulty concentrating, and slower reaction times. These effects become magnified when an athlete suffers a second concussion before fully recovering from the first.