According to a recent study, it is girls soccer – not football – that carries with it the highest rate of concussions for high school athletes.
One team in the Chicago area is taking measures to prevent head injuries, and doing it with a headband.
As Chicago’s WGN-TV reports, Glenbard East (Lombard, Ill.) girls soccer coach Kent Overbey is requiring one thing of all of his players for the third year in a row – they all must wear protective headgear.
“We had a goalie who suffered her second concussion and was out for a month,” Overbey told WGN. “As a teacher and as a coach, you take those kinds of things home with you.”
Overbey insists that every player on the team wear a coated Kevlar headband. Made from military grade technology that is found in things like bulletproof vests, it is the now being applied to the sports world.
“It’s a concussion suppression headband and the key there is suppression. You can’t stop concussions,” he says.
When Overbey mandated the new headgear for his teams, players resisted and thought it was a joke. But in the end, they bought into it and even found it gave them more confidence on the field.
“In three years, we have had one soccer related concussion,” Overbey told WGN. “For a team who played 29 games last year, earned third place in state in 3A, the big schools, to have one concussion in three years, I consider that a huge success.”
The coach added that he saw 10 concussions among his players in the prior seven years without the headbands.
Makers of the headband, The Unequal Halo, call it an airbag for the head.
“We felt it was a perfect compromise between a full helmet for soccer that nobody will wear versus something that is relatively fashionable and is going to address 80-85% of those moments that occur in soccer,” Jim Caldwell of Unequal Halo told WGN.
Per WGN, headbands retail anywhere from $40-$50 and while they don’t prevent concussions, the company’s claim is to reduce the risk of them.
Concussions in sports, especially girls soccer, aren’t going away. It is refreshing, though, to see a coach taking a proactive approach to the epidemic.