We’ve blogged about head injuries from soccer before, but a new study reinforces the need to be careful when playing. Repetitive hits to the head, such as those that occur when heading a soccer ball, can cause damage to the brain and change its white matter – even if the hit doesn’t cause a concussion.
This study compared elite soccer players to competitive swimmers, none of whom had experienced a concussion before. Researchers used a diffusion tensor image device to measure the participant’s brain injuries. They discovered the soccer players showed a change in white brain matter, but didn’t find any changes in the swimmers.
It is unclear what conclusions can be drawn from the results. More studies need to be done to find out definitively what causes white matter damage. Brain damage found in soccer players could also have been the result of other causes such as the number of times the ball is headed, sudden accelerations of the body, or even different lifestyle. Researchers strongly believe that heading the ball is a significant contributing factor.
It’s not safe for children under the age of ten to head the ball. Always learn the proper way to head a ball before doing so. It is also important to play with the right size of soccer ball in order to prevent injuries. Be aware and be prepared – your brain’s health is not worth the risk.
For More Information:
- Soccer Players Show Signs of Brain Damage, MedPage
- Soccer Players Show Signs of Brain Damage, ABC News