Young female athletes are vulnerable to concussions and other sports-related head and neck injuries. Repeated insult may lead to permanent neurologic deficit.
A study published earlier this year in the American Journal of Sports Medicine1 reported that girls suffer nearly twice as many youth soccer concussions as boys. The primary maneuver responsible for the injury and its consequences is “the header.”
A recent television expose2 on a group of avid young female soccer players now suffering sustained neurologic deficits after multiple concussions may prompt soccer moms-and dads-to ask you if this popular youth sport should be off limits for their daughter. Or, is there a way she can play safely?
What exactly is this severe post-concussion syndrome and how common is it? Why are teenage girls so much more susceptible to head injury than boys? How do you counsel a parent who says, “My daughter feels fine, and she wants to play”?
Here to discuss the research and to help you answer anxious parents’ questions is Dr Stuart Bradin. Dr Bradin is Assistant Professor of Pediatrics and Emergency Medicine at the University of Michigan Health System in Ann Arbor.
1. Marar M, McIlvain NM, Fields SK, Comstock RD. Epidemiology of concussions among United States high school athletes in 20 sports. Am J Sports Med. 2012;40:747-755.
2. Concussion crisis growing in girls’ soccer. Rock Center with Brian Williams, May 9, 2012. Available at: http://rockcenter.msnbc.msn.com/_news/2012/05/09/11604307-concussion-crisis-growing-in-girls-soccer?lite. Accessed on May 5, 2012.