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March 15, 2012

Concussions in Soccer

Here in BC, we are getting used to hearing about the long term effects of concussions caused in hockey and football. But are we overlooking the head injury risks coming from “non-contact” sports like soccer?

The L.A. Times recently shed some light on the dangers of concussions in soccer. The article follows Taylor Twellman, a former MLS player, who was forced to retire from the game in 2009. Twellman was 28 with lots of game left in him until an undiagnosed concussion changed his life.

Twellman’s concussion was the result of a sudden jolt to the head when he was accidentally punched by a goalkeeper. But brain damage can also occur from the repeated impact of heading a soccer ball.

A recent study shows that players who frequently head the ball can develop brain abnormalities similar to ones found in traumatic brain injury (TBI) patients. The study reveals that heading just a few balls a day over the course of a year shows significant damage in certain areas of the brain.

The study’s findings should not be taken lightly. Soccer is the most widely played sport around the globe. And kids are just as involved as adults – even more reason to raise awareness about concussions in the game.

ThinkFirst Canada has put together a list of soccer injury prevention tips, including the following brain injury advice:

  • Heading a soccer ball should not be introduced to children before the age of 10.
  • Players must learn the proper technique of heading a soccer ball once old enough to do so.
  • Soccer balls should be water-resistant. Once a ball’s plastic coating is lost, balls can become waterlogged and too heavy for safe heading.

In an effort to provide information and support for sports-related concussions, Twellman founded ThinkTaylor, a website dedicated to educating and finding positive outcomes for victims.

“This brain injury of concussions takes your life away,” says Twellman. “We’ve got to stop it.”

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Author - Nicholas Tsoi

Nicholas Tsoi joined Slater Vecchio in August 2011. Nicholas has represented clients in the Provincial and Supreme Courts of British Columbia and the British Columbia Court of Appeal.