Heading the ball in soccer may put players at risk for concussions

WICHITA FALLS, TX (KAUZ) - There is more cause for concern regarding traumatic brain injury in soccer, a sport already notorious for high concussion rates.  The cause of these concussions though has been disputed, and while heading and running into other players while the ball is airborne is part of the game, some research suggests it could be causing concussions.

"If they are complaining of a headache, they're done.  As soon as that headache symptom is in, we sit them," said Laura Poston, the athletic trainer for the Midwestern State University men's soccer team.

Concussions are a real threat in the game, according to Poston, but there is protocol that the team must follow if they believe a player may have suffered a head injury.

"It's a long recovery dealing with concussions.  You're looking at least a week.  We progress through the days until that seventh day, and as long as no headache comes back, no other signs of concussion, no symptoms, then they are good to go back," said Poston.

Head coach Doug Elder says he supports anything that his trainers can do to prolong and protect the physical and mental health of his players.

"People are starting to realize that there are a lot of concussions in soccer, and we don't even know if it's through heading the ball and collisions.  I think they are cracking down and being a lot more strict on collisions in soccer, which is good," said Coach Elder.

Not everyone, including some of the players, feels the same way.

"I do think they are doing an awful lot.  I honestly think they are doing a little too much," said Patrick Fitzgerald, center back from Waterford, Ireland.

As a defender Fitzgerald says he keeps his eyes locked on the ball once it's in the air.

"So, if you're 100% committed and that ball is in the air, you judge the flight, and it's 50/50 every time.  I enjoy it myself.  I know there's kind of a lot of talk around that situation, but I love heading the ball myself, and I've been doing it from a young age, and I seem okay," said Fitzgerald.

While concussions in soccer might get overlooked, Coach Elder agrees that head-related injuries are a lot more common than many people think.

"If we know the protocol and we have protections in place, I think the sport will continue like it always has been," said Coach Elder.

You can take a look at two independent soccer-related concussion studies by clicking HERE and HERE!

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