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Study Suggests Soccer Ball Heading Leads to Brain Injury

CASE TYPES: Head & Brain Injuries

On the heels of a recent change to the contact policy of college football conference PAC-12, a new study suggests that players of another sport may also have increased risks of brain damage.

This development, released June 11, 2013 by the journal Radiology, cites a study performed at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine at Yeshiva University in New York, in which 37 lifelong soccer players were given brain scans in addition to memory tests. These adults had headed a soccer ball between 32 and 5,400 times within the previous 12 months. It was determined by the researchers of this study that heading a soccer ball was linked with brain abnormalities, comparable to those seen in individuals who have suffered a traumatic brain injury (TBI), and was also connected with low scores on memory tests.

In addition, this study brings reassuring news for soccer players worried about a mild traumatic brain injury (MTBI) or even a TBI. Researchers of this study also concluded that there may actually be a safe range for soccer players to head the ball, which is between 1,000 and 1,500 times a year. The study indicated that heading a ball with that frequency within a 12 month duration was not associated with brain abnormalities or memory issues often associated with a traumatic head injury. However, the study did find that some individuals who have headed a ball within and even below that range have experienced memory problems, indicating that some individuals may be more susceptible to receiving a head or brain injury in this manner.

It’s important to note that while this study does seem to provide conclusive evidence, it was performed on a relatively small scale, meaning that more research is needed. WTOP, in speaking with a neurologist, noted that even though this study is far from being uniformly acknowledged, it is still recommended that children under the age of 10-15 should probably avoid heading a soccer ball because their brains are still developing. Thankfully, brain scan technology has improved and it is now easier for a doctor to diagnose brain injury symptoms in a patient who has experienced a MTBI or a TBI, and by extension, for a head and brain injury lawyer to prove that their client has suffered brain injuries of this type. Due to this new information, do you think it would be too soon for youth soccer leagues to institute a policy that limits the amount of times a child can head a ball during practice, or even during a game?

At the law offices of Cannella and O’Neal, our Richmond head and brain injury attorneys have been fighting to imagine justice for over 30 years. To find out if you have a case, call our office day or night, 7 days a week on our Personal Injury Hotline at 800-843-4090 for an immediate response, or fill out our intake form and we will respond with the answers you deserve within 24 hours. We will come to you and there is no legal fee unless we win your case.