Archive for the ‘Soccer’ Category

Fear of Concussions in Youth Sports

More effort in awareness and education needed

The anxiety level among Americans regarding concussions was found to be quite high according to a recent online survey. The University of Pittsburgh Medical Center conducted the survey among 2012 Americans over the age of 18. The results highlight the myths and misunderstanding about concussions.

Nearly 90% of those surveyed consider concussions to be a moderate to severe health concern. Nearly one-third of parents said they fear their child will suffer a concussion, and 25% do not allow their children to play contact sports because they fear they’ll suffer a concussion.

Ironically, 26% of the parents surveyed did not seek medical treatment when someone in their family suffered a concussion. Worse, 81% of those surveyed said they would not know the steps to take in treating a concussion if they sustained one.

More statistics from the survey:

  • 87% did not know the definition of a concussion, and 37% admit to being confused as to what a concussion actually is.
  • 58% could not identify headache or dizziness as immediate symptoms of a concussion.
  • Only 34% understand that fatigue is also a symptom and just 13% know that mood changes can also be the result of a concussion.
  • 79% of adults incorrectly think concussions are incurable and that the symptoms can only be managed.

Decreasing the level of fear

Fear of concussion among many parents is affecting their decision to permit their children to participate in contact sports. While there has been much progress in educating coaches, trainers, parents and players about concussion risk management and treatment, there’s much work to be done.

Sports are a healthy physical and social activity for children and teens, and fear of injury should not prevent them from participating. Concussions are treatable and when properly managed, athletes can return to play. “With careful evaluation and treatment by a well-trained specialist, even the most complex injuries are manageable,” says Erin Reynolds, fellowship director of UPMC Sports Medicine Concussion Program.

Click here for the full survey results. We have more articles on concussions on our blog and offer free concussion risk management material in our risk management library.

Source: Susan Manko, “Are American Parents Too Afraid of Concussions?” 05 Oct, 2015.

10-Second Sideline Concussion Test

 Software tracks eye movement on iPad

As the sports world continues to focus on concussion prevention, it’s no wonder innovators are coming up with faster, smarter ways to detect a brain injuries. EyeGuide, start-up group out of Texas, has introduced a concussion

EyeGuide’s Focus technology uses a headset connected to an iPad to track eye movement. Users set a baseline reading and then repeat the test when it’s suspected they may have suffered a concussion. Coaches can have each player take the test at the beginning of the season to set their normal baseline eye function. The Focus is then used on the sidelines for immediate comparison on players suspected of suffering concussions.

New technology using known methods of concussion detection.

EyeGuide’s Focus system was developed after years of research at Texas Tech University. The software quickly measures neurological impairment following protocols established in neuroscience research. There are similar products on the market aimed at aiding coaches and trainers to detect concussions immediately.

Eyeguide explains the Focus technology in layman’s terms by comparing it to the follow-my-finger eye test given to suspected drunk drivers.

Players avoiding concussion diagnosis vs. intelligent technology

Approximately 500,000 concussions are reported in youth sports across the U.S. each year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.  Eyeguide, knowing that even more concussion go unreported, took into account that players fear being removed from play if they report symptoms of a concussion.The Focus technology gets smarter with use as it compares each player’s eye movements with a database of other athlete’s records. This prevents players from cheating the system.

Company still awaiting funding

The company is still awaiting start-up financing, which it believes to be imminent. Therefore, the product has not yet hit the market.

Sadler Sports & Recreation Insurance is all about safety and injury prevention. We offer more information on concussion research and prevention on our blog and free concussion risk management resources in our risk management library.

Source:  Mary-Ann Russon, “EyeGuide Focus: This eye-tracking headset can diagnose concussions in just 10 seconds,” 3 Dec. 2015.

U.S. Soccer Federation Sets New Header Rules For Ages 13 & Under

Reducing exposure to head injuries in the youngest players

New safety regulations were announced by the United States Soccer Federation in an effort to reduce the number of head injuries. These include the specific policy that restricts players under age 10 from heading the ball and reducing headers during practice for players aged 11 to 13.

Establishment of the new guidelines resolves a class-action lawsuit filed against FIFA, U.S. Soccer and the American Youth Soccer Organization alleging negligence in treating and monitoring head injuries. Plaintiffs sought no financial compensation, only changes to the rules.

The guidelines are mandatory for all national U.S. Soccer youth teams and academies, which includes Major League Soccer youth club teams. They will serve as recommendations for associations and program not overseen by U.S. Soccer.

Recommendations go beyond heading the ball

Modifications were also made to substitution rules in an attempt to protect players suspected of having suffered concussions. The current rules are for three substitutions per game, but don’t allow for temporary substitutions so players sustaining a head injury can be properly examined.

The new initiative also calls for increased education for parents, players, coaches and referees, as well uniformity in handling youth concussions. The intention of these educational efforts could will lead to a better understanding and acceptance of the heading rules for children.

Source: Ben Strauss, “U.S. Soccer Resolving Lawsuit Will Limit Headers.” 09 Nov, 2015.

Soccer-related concussions

Research looks at player collisions vs heading the ball

While the concussion hype focuses primarily around football, there’s also a lot of discussion about soccer-related head injuries. The soccer concussion debate centers around the question of whether or not a ban in youth soccer on heading the ball and other rule changes would impact the number of head injuries, particularly concussions.

A recent study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association’s JAMA Pediatrics shows that physical contact between players is the most common cause of soccer concussions. In that case, a change in soccer rules about using the head to hit the ball would likely have little effect on concussion rates.

This results of the study conducted by the Colorado School of Public Health were based on data collected from 100 high schools between 2005 and 2014. Researchers documented 627 concussions among girls and 442 among boys, which aligns with past findings that soccer is the second-leading cause of concussions for female high-school athletes and the fifth for boys.

Differing views

Better rule enforcement and continual re-emphasis on the technical skills of passing and dribbling make the game safer, according to the study’s author, Sarah Fields, an associate professor at the University of Colorado-Denver.  FIFA rules only allow for shoulder-to-shoulder contact among players, which Fields thinks should be more strictly enforced.

Not everyone thinks that minimizing rough play is the answer. One of those is Dr. Robert Cantu, a neurology professor at Boston University School of Medicine. Cantu says that most injuries to soccer players under his care that took place when heading the ball didn’t occur during intentionally rough plays. Instead, players were intent on heading the ball and collided with other players intent on the same thing or who got in the way.

While Cantu does not support eliminating heading the ball in soccer, he does recommend banning it for players under the age of 14, stating that’s the age level at most risk for concussion.

Another point in the ongoing debate is that even shoulder level contact can result in concussive forces, whether through direct contact or when a player subsequently hits the ground.

The number of football-related deaths and serious head injuries among high school players in recent years resulted in the concussion laws for all sports being enacted in all 50 states and the District of Columbia.

We encourage further reading of our articles on concussions.

Source: Amrith  Ramkumar, “Injury study spurs debate on soccer-related concussions.” 31 July 2015.

Benching of Youth Participants and Resulting Lawsuits

Parents who pay want their child to play

It’s not yet what you’d call a trend, but there’s certainly an uptick in the number of parents filing lawsuits to get their child off the bench and onto the playing field.

Parents put out big bucks in registrations fees, equipment and travel costs associated with high school and youth club and travel teams, to say nothing of the time they invest attending practices and traveling to games. Many parents sacrifice their time and money for their children hoping to get the attention of college coaches, earn scholarships, and improve chances of college admissions – or even advance a professional athletic career. So, it’s understandable that some are dissatisfied when their child rides the bench more than he or she plays. In other words, they expect a payoff for their investment.

There is also an increase in lawsuits by parents of children who have been cut from teams, injured, disciplined by coaches or penalized by officials. But is hiring an attorney the answer? Many are questioning not only the attitude of entitlement, but how the children, who generally play for the fun and camaraderie, are affected by such lawsuits. What are the children learning when parents step in so heavily handed to smooth the way? Will they learn they’re entitled to play on a team simply because they attend practice? And are parents setting these athletes up to be bullied by other team members?

The increasingly competitive nature of youth sports has helped shift many parents’ focus from fun, exercise and sportsmanship to an investment in their children’s academic and professional futures. Youth sports officials are watching the case of a 16-year-old volleyball player. The girl earned spot on a volleyball league but ended up on the bench, so her parents filed suit against the volleyball association, alleging it won’t let the girl play or to switch teams, per the contract she signed.

General Liability policies, which typically only respond to certain lawsuits alleging bodily injury or property damage, don’t cover these types of lawsuits that allege loss of college scholarship or loss of pro career. Such lawsuits generally require a Professional Liability endorsement on a General Liability policy or a stand alone Professional Liability policy.

Source: Tracey Schelmetic,, 21 Apr. 2015.

Soccer Goal Tipping Hazards

Unanchored goals pose danger to players

I came across a fantastic CBS News video that explains exactly how unanchored soccer goals can tip over and seriously injure or kill a child. At least one child fatality  and 200 injuries from tipped soccer goals are reported each year. Soccer goals can weigh several hundred pounds and cause catastrophic bodily damage, such as a crushed skull or broken limbs, when they tip over and come in contact with players. Coaches, players, and parents need to be educated on this topic and should check soccer goals prior to every practice and game to make sure they are properly anchored.

Sports General Liability insurance carriers that insure soccer organizations must often absorb full policy limit lawsuits resulting from these death claims.

You can view the video by following this link.

Congratulations, Frances Sadler!

Frances SadlerFrances Sadler was recently named to the South Carolina Independent Schools Association (SCISA) All State and High School Sports Report  All Star teams for the 2014 season. Frances is a forward for the Hammond School varsity soccer team and scored 27 goals during her junior season.

Good job, Frances!

Reducing the risk of ACL injuries

Is prevention the best medicine?


You’d be hard pressed to find any youth soccer, basketball or football team that doesn’t have at least one player with an ACL injury.

ACL diagramThe anterior cruciate ligament, or ACL, stabilizes the knee and is highly susceptible to injury during high impact sports. As the popularity of youth sports continues to grow, so does the number of teen and young ACL injuries. How can this be minimized?

Training for prevention

Young athletes receiving universal neuromuscular training is proving to be an effective deterrent to ACL injuries, according to a recent Columbia University Medical Center study. The training teaches athletes proper bending, jumping, landing and pivoting techniques. The study focused on 10,000 “at-risk” athletes between the ages of 14 and 22. The results showed an average reduction of 63 percent in ACL injuries in those who received universal training.

Screening for ACL weaknesses also helps reduce the number of ligament sprains and tears, but reduced the rate by only 40 percent.

Counting the costs

The estimate to run a universal training program for coaches and players is about $1.25 per day, according to the study researchers. ACL reconstruction can cost anywhere from $5,000 to $17,000.

“According to our model, training was so much less expensive and so much more effective than we anticipated.” said orthopaedic resident Eric F. Swart, the lead author of the study

While preventive training and screening might sound like the best option, screening is a high-cost variable if implemented on a team-wide basis.

Source: “Universal neuromuscular training reduces ACL injury risk in young athletes,” Medical Xpress. 14 Mar. 2014.

Concussions among girl soccer players

Why are girls more vulnerable?

Middle school girl soccer players suffer more concussions than girls in high school and college. Researchers say incorrect heading techniques and the young girls’ less developed brains and neck muscles are likely contributors to the rate of concussions.

What’s adding to the problem

A recent study found 59 concussions among 351 girls aged 11 to 14. Participants in the study complained of dizziness, headaches, inability to concentrate and being drowsy. Exacerbating the problem is that many continue to play despite their symptoms, risking a second injury.

Despite the experts advising that players not return to practice or games until symptoms disappear, 58 percent of the players in the study continued to play even with symptoms persisting,  according to the study’s co-author Melissa Schiff, professor of epidemiology.

The same study found that heading the ball was the cause of 30 percent of the players’ concussions and more than 50 percent were the result of Girls heading ballplayer collisions.

Looking to lower the numbers

The rate head injuries among young girls linked to heading the ball doesn’t surprise John Kuluz of Miami Children’s Hospital.

“I see it all the time,” he said. Kuluz’s advice: athletes who have suffered a concussion should avoid heading the ball.

Oddly enough, concussions resulted 23 times more frequently in games than during practice. Should heading the ball be banned to reduce the number of head injuries?  Some suggest that middle school athletes should be taught proper heading technique in practice but prohibit its use in play until high school.

The study was published in the Jan 2014 online issue of JAMA Pediatrics.

More information on concussions and risk management are available on the Sadler Sports Insurance website.

Source: Kathleen Doheny, “Concussions Common in Middle School.”  Healthday. 20 Jan 2014.

Skip practice and the books following a concussion (Infographic)

Concussion recovery: rest, rest, and more rest

Recent concussions treatment research reveals that taking a break from the classroom is as important as taking time off the field while recuperating from head injuries. Doctors had long suspected this and advised their patients accordingly, and now research backs up their advice.

Researchers found that concussion patients who took a brief period of complete rest shortened their recovery time. The study included 335 patients ranging in age from 8 to 23. These are significant findings for treating head injuries in children. Youth are the segment of the population most at-risk for long term damage because of their still-developing brains.

Infographic Concussion Warning Signs

Want to display this Infographic on your own site? Just copy and paste the code below into your blog post or web page:

Recent research study and findings

The study found that half of kids who did not take complete rest immediately following their injury took 100 or more days to fully recuperate. Nearly all who took the time to rest fully before slowly returning to daily activities recuperated in less than 100 days, some as quickly as two months. Evidence also indicates that the reduction of mind activity after a concussion lessens the symptoms associated with head injuries.

The severity of the symptoms determines how much time each child needs to rest the brain.Three to five days is usually sufficient, according to study co-author William Meehan of the Sports Concussion Clinic at Boston Children’s Hospital. “Then you can gradually reintroduce them to cognitive activity. They should do as much as they can without exacerbating their symptoms,” said Meehan.

What’s involved in the healing process

A jolt to the head can result in what’s tantamount to a mini seizure. The brain cells fire up all at once, depleting their fuel. To recover, the brain shuts down as it begins the process of restoring the cells. That recovery time is prolonged when brain activity is resumed too early.

“[I]t can take days to weeks for processes in the brain to mop up the mess from a concussion,” said Douglas Smith of the Center for Brain Injury and Repair at the University of Pennsylvania Medical Center.

Taking it slow

The litmus test for returning to activities is being able to do whatever doesn’t aggravate the symptoms. Start with 15 minutes of reading or computer time. But if a headache or other symptoms start up, it’s time to take a break and rest. Increase activity time as the child is able without triggering symptoms or pain.

For more information and to find out more about concussion risk management you can check out our concussion resources.

Source: Linda Carroll, “Skip the Homework,”, 06 Jan. 2014.