When it comes to concussions, at least, soccer isn’t that different from football if you’re a teenage girl, according to a study of 20 high school sports published in the November 2019 issue of Pediatrics, a peer-reviewed medical journal.
The sport also has been pitched as a safer alternative to football amid growing evidence of football’s physical toll on participants, including neurological damage.
University of North Carolina researchers found football had the highest concussion rate, with 10.4 concussions per 10,000 athletic exposures, followed by girls soccer with 8.19 concussions. Boy soccer players had a much lower rate of 3.57 concussions.
UNC researchers looked at injuries per athletic exposure for U.S. high schoolers during the 2013-2014 to 2017-2018 school years. For every athlete, one practice or competition is counted as one exposure. Overall, 9,542 concussions were reported during the study period, or 4.17 concussions per 10,000 exposures. The data came from the National High School Sports-Related Injury Surveillance Study database, which is based on reporting from athletic trainers.
Experts speculate that girls have smaller, weaker necks than boys, making their heads more susceptible to trauma. Hormones also could play a role. And girls might be more likely to report a concussion – a traumatic brain injury caused by a bump, blow or jolt to the head or body that causes the brain to move rapidly inside the skull.
By Helena Oliviero
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution
Nov 1, 2019
STUDY BY – American Academy of Pediatrics
“Concussion Incidence and Trends in 20 High School Sports”
Volume 144, Issue 5