The numbers are staggering and heartbreaking – girls soccer players are treated for so many concussions each year that they are second only to football among youth athletes. A concussion is a brain injury and the easiest way I can explain it is if you were to take a block of jello and put it in a container then drop it you will see it stays primarily as it bounces of the walls of its container, but do it too many times and the jello does break down. And girls are actually more susceptible to concussions than boys, due in part to anatomy and inherent neck strength – according to a study by the Journal of Athletic Training, in sports that both girls and boys play, like soccer and basketball, girls are 1.5 times more likely to suffer head injuries in basketball and 3 times more likely when playing soccer.
NBC's Kate Snow of Rock Center did a very informative piece on this alarming trend, how it affects the girls (girls in the interview claimed having multiple concussion over the past few years), what the warning signs are and what needs to be done to lower the numbers. Watch below:
One trend I am very happy to see, at least in our area, is concussion testing at the high school level. Every high school athlete – whether they play football or are on the swim team – go through baseline concussion testing each season. I am wondering if this needs to become a service that is more readily available at the club sports and recreational sports level, too?
Additionally, there are three really important steps you can take as a parent to help prevent concussions in your athlete:
- Make sure she is wearing a mouthguard – mouth guards have been proven to provide additional structural stability in the skull which helps prevent a concussion.
- Know the symptoms of concussions and when in doubt have your athlete seen by a physician
- Resist the urge to let your athlete return to play until she is 100% medically cleared – stick to your guns – no matter how much she or her coach pressure you to let her go back early.
You may also be interested in a documentary by the University of Minnesota’s Tucker Center for Research on Girls and Women in Sport highlighting the untold story of female athletes and concussion injuries. Knowledge is power when it comes to reducing the number of concussions young girls are suffering on the field.