Concussions in Girls’ Soccer

May 10, 2012

I received an email from our high school nurse yesterday about a segment on Rock Center on MSNBC for last night. This segment was telling the story of a few high school girls in Pennsylvania and the struggles they have had dealing with concussions and post-concussion syndrome. I have linked to the video below and then I have included my thoughts which I had sent back to her and to our girls’ soccer coaches.

Fifteen-year-old Allison Kasacavage, once a rising soccer star in Pennsylvania, is slowly recovering after suffering debilitating concussions while playing the game she loved. “It’s almost like I need a sign on my back saying, ‘My head is broken.’ And you can’t see it. It’s like not visible and it’s like not many people understand, “said Allison in an interview with Rock Center’s Kate Snow airing Wednesday, May 9, at 9 p.m. ET/8 p.m. CT.

I had seen it on Facebook yesterday as well, but honestly I probably wouldn’t have watched it because those types of videos come across my news feed daily. I did have a chance to watch the segment last night and was able to discuss the segment with another one of our athletic trainers immediately afterwards and we came to the same conclusion. Really, this video was an emotional video that was to target your emotions and tell the story of these girls. And it succeeded in doing that, but it also missed its mark in a big way I think.

The medical staff (athletic trainers, physicians, and researchers) get criticized often when it comes to the concussion issue in that we’re trying to change the sport “for the worse” and it couldn’t be further from the truth. There are rule modifications in place to reduce injuries and soccer shouldn’t be any different.
Where soccer falls on the list with regards to concussions seems to vary, but it’s always near the top and it is always at the top for female sports. I don’t think we should be surprised by this. There are numerous causes and I think I agree with Julie that it’s not the ball causing a lot of these concussions. They absolutely can, but I’m more concerned with the player-to-player contact which is often associated with heading the ball. We hear the officials yelling about “straight up” and that’s a simple injury reduction technique.
I know that we have discussed on the bench this spring those headbands that we saw some opponents wearing throughout the year. The company claims those reduce concussions and they might help absorb some of the impact, but I come back to the same argument: Football is #1 on the list and they all wear helmets.
What remains a problem is the recognition of that concussion by the athlete. As a coach and as the medical staff, our hands are tied if the athlete is not displaying any signs of a concussion. That is something the video highlighted. Even with one of the girls that they spoke to and were filming admitted to having suffered a concussion and ignoring it!
We must remember these things will happen and we must be prepared to recognize and manage them correctly when they do occur.
Every Athlete Deserves an Athletic Trainer

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