Friday, April 30, 2010

Coaches and Concussions

What does a soccer coach do when there is not a certified athletic trainer or medical professional present and one of their soccer players appears to have a concussion? Everyday, coaches are faced with this problem and many have no idea what to do.  Here's some good information if you ever encounter this situation:

1. Recognize the problem.
        *Concussions can occur without a loss of consciousness.
        *Know the signs and symptoms to observe and symptoms that could be reported by the athlete.

2. Immediately pull the athlete from practice or competition.
         *Keep athlete out of participation until they are evaluated and cleared by a medical professional.
         *Tell the athletes that it is not smart to play injured and discourage other from pressuring them.

3. Inform the athlete's parents or guardians that they have a suspected concussion and give them a fact sheet on concussions.
        *Make sure they know the athlete needs to see a medical professional.

4. Allow the athlete to participate only after they have been medically evaluated and have proper clearance.
         *If you allow the athlete to return too soon without medical clearance, you are putting them at a great risk for second impact syndrome, which can result in death.

**REMEMBER: there is no such thing as "getting your bell rung" or "getting dinged"!!! These are all indicative of a concussion!

This information comes from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention. They have great information for coaches in their Heads Up: Concussions in High School Sports section. If you follow the link below, you will find a concussion guide for coaches as well as a wallet card, clip board sticker, and symptom list.  No coach should be unprepared when one of their players sustains a concussion!

Does repetitively heading a soccer ball cause long-term neurocognitive deficits?

It is estimated that throughout a soccer player's career of 300 games, they will sustain around 2,000 blows to the head from voluntarily heading a soccer ball.  Research regarding the long-term problems associate with multiple sport-related concussions is inconsistent and conlicting especially in sports like soccer where athletes sustain recurring blows to the head.  Norweigan researchers evaluated brain scans of retired professional soccer players that sustained roughly 2,000 blows to the head over their career.  Higher rates of electroencephalographic abnormalities and cerebral atrophy were found in these retired soccer players compared to normal adults.  In disagreement with these researchers, others found that other injuries, concussions sustained in falls, or collisions with other players were responsible for lower scores on cognitive tests by retired soccer players. They did not believe that repetitive blows to the head over one's career were the cause for the neurocognitive deficits found in retired soccer players.  This is an area that clearly needs to be studied further to see if repetitive heading is putting soccer players at risk for long-term neurocognitive deficits.

Tsyvaer A, Lochen E. Soccer injuries to the brain: a neuropsychologic study of former soccer players. Am J Sports Med. 1991;19:56-60.

Jordan S, Green G. Acute and chronic brain injury in united states national team soccer players. Am J Sports Med. 1996;24:205-210.

Friday, April 2, 2010

Proper Biomechanics of Heading a Soccer Ball

As stated previously, heading should not technically be introduced until the age of 12. With this said, heading often occurs at a much younger age. Younger athletes are more likely to sustain injuries from heading a soccer ball due to their small stature, poor technique, and weaker musculature. The first step in prevention of injury is to learn the proper techniques of heading a soccer ball. When dealing with athletes of any age, this is the responsibility of the soccer coach.

-Mansell J, Sitler M, Stearne D, Swanik K, Tierney R. Resistance training and head-neck segment dynamic stabilizationin male and female collegiate soccer players. J Athl Train. 2005;40:310-319.

Correct Biomechanics
The correct technique involves using the frontal bone just below the hairline (the hardest part of the skull) while simultaneously isometrically contracting the neck musculature.

The soccer player should then apply a counterforce to the impacting ball by flexing at the trunk.

By performing this action as described, the athlete's body becomes a single, rigid unit that lowers the risk of injury by decreasing the rotational or linear forces to the head as forces generated by the ball are dispersed across the athlete's body.

Keep in Mind: Many concussions are the result of a soccer ball colliding with the head of an unsuspecting soccer player. The neck musculature does not maintain the head in a rigid position at ball inmpact, forcing the cranium into the brain and resulting in a coup injury. If the brain then rebounds into the opposite side of the inner cranium, a contrecoup injury can result.
This is demonstrated in this video by A.D.A.M:

-Broglio M, Broglio S, Ju Y, Sell T. The efficacy of soccer headgear. J Athl Train. 2003;38:220-224.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Great Videos Dealing With Concussions!!!

I've had some requests from my fellow certified athletic trainers to post more videos and pictures so here's some YouTube videos dealing with current issues on concussions:

Concussions: When in Doubt, Sit it Out

ESPN segment on concussions, Great information on second impact syndrome and ImPACT testing

Concussions can have delayed consequences-- GREAT for PARENTS: what many parents think: "He didn't lose consciousness, so I didn't think anything was wrong"

Full90 Commercial on YouTube-- If you don't know why I created this blog or if you think soccer is not a serious contact sport PLEASE watch this video :)

Kids and Concussions

Protecting Athletes Against Concussions

ForceField Headband makes the news!

2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa Commerical (this doesn't have anything to do with concussions, but if you'r a soccer fan I know you're excited for June 2010!!)

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Interesting Article and Concussion Prevention

This article does not have to do with soccer, but I thought it was interesting all the same. Dr. Robert Cantu (the neurosurgeon in the article) is a leading researcher on concussions and has been involved in many of the articles I've recently read on the topic. He is moving forward with his debate that football players should not wear helmets during practice. Check it out:

Prevention of Concussions

While concussions, like any other injury, can not be totally prevented, some steps can be taken to reduce the risk of their occurrence.

-Proper coaching of heading techniques
-Good officiating of the rules (for example, the referee does not let the game get out of control as far as dangerous plays go)
-Properly fitting soccer equipment
-Disqualifying yourself immediately from the activity if you notice any concussion symptoms after receiving a blow to the head
-Follow correct return-to-play guidelines given to you by a medical professional after a concussion, do not return too soon!

Especially for adolescents:
-Appropriate sized soccer balls for youth soccer players (sizes range from 3-5)
-Strengthening neck and core muscles
-Taking in to consideration wearing protective headgear

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

What's In The News??

Missouri Taking a Step in the Right Direction Regarding Medical Clearance of Concussed Athletes:

California Enforcing Stricter Laws Regarding Concussions:

Researchers Warn Parents to Take Concussions More Seriously:

The Importance of Managing Adolescent Concussions:

The Zack Lystedt Law passed in 2009 in the state of Washington: