Archive for the ‘Soccer’ Category

Researchers studying soccer concussions and links to CTE

Science focusing on how many hits, not just how hard

We frequently write about concussion prevention, usually in connection to football. But concussions are a concern in soccer, too, and scientists are turning their attention to the sport.

Most people don’t think of soccer as a contact sport. But repeated player-on-player impacts and headers can result in concussions. Soccer is played by millions of kids at all age levels, so concussion education and research related to prevention is critical.

A good starting point is the U.S. Soccer Federation’s policy that strictly limits headers in youth soccer. Set in 2015, it prohibits players under age 10 from heading the ball and reduces headers during practice for players aged 11 to 13.

Concussions and CTE

Talk of concussions always leads to talk of CTE, or chronic traumatic encephalopathy. CTE is a progressive degenerative brain disease found in people with a history of repetitive brain trauma. It can only be diagnosed by conducting an autopsy. To date, there is no definitive proof that CTE is caused by concussions.

However, research suggests that repeated, less violent sub-concussive hits football and soccer players take may trigger CTE.  Current research being conducted by Michael Lipton, a neuroscientist at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine, is seeking to identify what triggers CTE. His research seeks an answer to the question of how much impact it takes for brain function to be affected.

Measuring the impact scientifically

Lipton hopes to find the answer by tracking about 400 recreational soccer players for Concussions in youth sportsseveral years. The study participants get a brain scan and blood work done. To test cognitive abilities, they participate in brain games on a tablet. Changes in brain function are mapped through diffusion tensor magnetic resonance imaging.

Lipton found in an earlier study of about 37 players that heading the ball is associated with cognitive setbacks and changes to the brain structure. This was the case even when no concussion was diagnosed. Observation of the players revealed that they head the ball an average of six to 12 times each game. These balls are traveling missile-like at speeds up to 50 mph. Players headed balls up to 30 times during practice drills. The study suggests that memory problems set in at about 1,800 headers.

Looking ahead

Conducting such a study on a larger group of players could help researchers find the point at which players should cease playing or back off heading the ball.

Other medical researchers hope to eventually isolate a biomarker that signals the onset CTE. That information would enable players to determine if and when it’s time to hang up their cleats.

In my opinion

I’m a bit confused about Lipton’s research methods. I seriously doubt he will find much heading of the ball in his new study of recreational soccer players. In his earlier study, the number of headers cited per practice seem too high for even the average club-level team. In watching my daughters’ club and high school practices over the past 10 years, I’ve never seen anything close to 30 repetitive header practices with high speed balls. The only heading-specific drills are low speed. The entire team may practice high-speed headers off of corner kicks, but the hits are spread out among the entire team.

You can read further articles about concussions on our blog.


Source: ERIC NIILER, “Brain Trauma Scientists Turn Their Attention to Soccer.” wired.com. 27 July 2017

Verbal Abuse, Violence Driving Umpires/Referees Out of Sports

Officials cite verbal abuse and threats as reason for decline

The Washington Post recently ran a story on the shortage of referees in youth sports. It spotlighted several former game officials recounting their many negative experiences. These included instances of verbal abuse by players, coaches and parents, feeling threatened physically, and lack of support from league and school administrators.

One D.C.-area baseball official assigning group is reporting it’s lowest number of umpires in over 25 years. Only 50% of their first-year umpires return to the job. About 20% of those officiating for five to seven years come back. According to the National Federation of State High School Associations, just two out of every 10 officials across all sports return for a third year.

Youth soccer, in particular, suffers from a decline in referees, even as player participation continues to rise year after year. Incidences of red cards remains static. But the number of red cards for filthy and abusive language, often directed at officials, has doubled in the past year.

There’s no reason to expect this trend to change any time in the foreseeable future. The increasing referee shortage means even more game cancellations in the future than are already being experienced.

The responsibility of administrators

High school assistant football coach Scott Hartman told of being verbally attacked by players and their coach following a call he made. After the game, parents and fans hurled insults at the other officials and him. The school’s director of student activities escorted them to their cars, but chastised the referees for missing several possible fouls by the opposing team.

You’re the exact reason that we’re losing referees, and you’re the reason that parents and coaches are out of control,” Hartman told him.

Hartman points out that there are schools that make maintaining decorum a priority.

But many administrators are obviously more concerned about wins and losses, not holding coaches accountable for poor behavior.

Virginia’s Commonwealth Soccer Officials Association (CSOA) conducted inspections at Northern Virginia high schools. Loud vocal disapproval was observed in 85% of the 42 matches observed. Of those, profanity by spectators was involved in 20%.
Not surprisingly, female officials suffer all this and more. Many say they encounter sexism at nearly every event, are spat upon and called whores. “I’ve been called that and worse in at least a dozen languages” said long-time soccer official Thea Bruhn.

A tolerant environment

Officiating organizations are accused of encouraging referees to tolerate behavior by fans, players and parents. Other say coaches even dictate to officiating organizations which referees will work certain games.

Personal and advertising injuryOther factors include travel leagues that are full of aggressive parents making demands as they push for college scholarships. And young athletes observe admired professional players berating referees and exhibiting poor sportsmanship.

To participate in games, umpires and referees frequently have to leave their day jobs early and travel good distances. They often return home lateat night. Pay for youth rec through varsity-level leagues ranges from $25 to $65 per game. It’s no wonder many are deciding they’re no longer willing to sacrifice their time and energy when they’re shown so little regard.

We encourage officials to read Referee & Umpire Insurance. For more information or quote on Referee & Umpire Insurance please call us at (800) 622-7370.


Source:  Nick Ellerson.  “Verbal abuse from parents, coaches is causing a referee shortage in youth sports.” washingtonpost.com. 16 June 2017.

Soccer Injuries and Deaths Due to Tipped Goals

| Soccer

It shouldn’t happen, but it does

This won’t be the first time we post about a tragedy involving tipping soccer goals.  I hope it’s the last.

A 9-year-old boy died after a soccer goal post came crashing down on his head. The indoor soccer goal tipped after the boy jumped up and grabbed onto the crossbar.

Easily preventable tragedies

People find it hard to believe anyone could die or even be badly injured in a goal-tipping accident. But children playing on soccer goals results in at least one death and hundreds of injuries every year.

Never permit climbing or hanging on goals. Always anchor the goals be sure the posts are well-padded. Obviously, players and parents should always be informed of the potential risks associated with moveable soccer goals.

Click here to obtain a copy of the ASTM Guide for Safer Use of Movable Soccer Goals.


Source: Tina Moore, Daniel Prendergast and Khristina Narizhnaya. “‘His face turned blue’: 9-year-old boy dies while playing soccer.” nypost.com. 17 Sept. 2017.

New Device Shows Promise in Preventing Concussions

Unlike helmets, Q-Collar enhances brain’s existing protection from inside

At Sadler Sports and Recreation we keep our eye out for concussion-related news. We’re very careful to share well-researched information and not fan the flames of concussion hysteria. Our focus is reducing concussions during the course of play, not instilling fear of concussions.

That being said, I recently learned of an innovative product currently being tested as a concussion prevention device. Dr. Gregory Myer of the Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Division of Sports Medicine is conducting tests on the Q-Collar, which controls blood flow to the athlete’s head.

The Q-Collar approaches concussion prevention differently than helmets.  A helmet can help reduce the force of impact. However, it can’t keep the brain from moving around within the skull, which the Q-collar appears to do.

How it works

The c-shaped Q-Collar fits around the athlete’s neck, which exerts slight pressure on the jugular veins. These veins are the blood’s main pathway from the head back to the heart. The collar mildly increases blood volume in the cranium so the brain fits more snugly, reducing its ability to slosh about. In other words, the increased blood volume acts as an airbag for the brain.

The most recent test participants are high school football players and female soccer players. Earlier tests included high school hockey players. The study results show a potential approach to protecting the brain from changes sustained during participants’ competitive seasons, according to Myer. He is continuing his research  and data analyzation, but is optimistic that the device could be a game-changer in concussion prevention.


Source: Elise Jesse. “New ‘collar’ being tested in Cincinnati could prevent concussions.” www.wlwt.com. 17 Aug.2017.

Refuting Reports of Increased Concussion Rates in Youth Sports

Looking at the facts

Reckless reporting and alarmist headlines about rising concussion rates in youth sports are a pet peeve of mine. Parents, athletes, coaches and league administrators deserve to have the facts presented responsibly on such a serious topic.

The headline on a recent article by a doctor screamed “Concussion rates are rising among U.S. youth.” What the doctor didn’t say in the article is that concussion rates are NOT rising; concussion reporting is rising.

Our internal Accident insurance claim statistics reveal the following increases in the reporting of concussion claims as a percentage of total claims reported:

Sport

Youth baseball

Youth football

Concussion rates prior to 2012

2.96%

7.89%

Concussion rates 2012-16

8.01%

15.88%

The significant increases in concussion claims reported over these time periods have nothing to do with change in the risk factors in these two sports over this time period. These increases have everything to do with educational awareness.

We have concussion education efforts and concussion laws on the books in all 50 states and the District of Columbia to thank for that. These efforts have brought about a heightened awareness of concussion recognition, initial diagnosis and treatment, and return to play monitoring. The increase in the number of reported concussions only reflects how many youth athletes were walking around with undiagnosed concussions in the past.

Promoting educational awareness and risk management

Over a year ago, I wrote about the need for increased efforts in concussion education, stating, “Fear of concussion among many parents is affecting their decision to permit their children to participate in contact sports.” And nearly two years ago, I said in an article addressing the media’s concussion hype,  “The best outcome is the awareness being brought to the general puConcussion risk managementblic about diagnosis, second-impact syndrome, removal, and return-to-play policies.“

I’m pleased to see that all this awareness resulting in more athletes getting the medical care necessary, which enables them to return to playing after treatment and full recovery. The Center for Disease Control’s HEADS UP offers many resources to help parents, coaches, administrators, and healthcare providers recognize, respond to, and minimize the risk of concussions or other serious brain injuries.

We’re proud to continually provide up-to-date and credible information on sports concussions and a variety of sports injury and risk management-related topics on our blog.


Source: Brad C. Gollinger. “Concussion rates are rising among U.S. youth.” www.recordonline.com. 07 Mar., 2017.

Risks of Sports Specialization Among Youth Athletes

Focus on a single sport can lead to overuse injuries

Kids are starting to participate in recreational sports leagues and camps at increasingly younger ages in recent years. T-ball teams, soccer leagues, swim clubs, skating rinks, cheer squads, tumbling schools and even dance studios are filled with little people, some as young 3 and 4 years of age.  And many are choosing to participate in a single activity year round from an early age.

Sports specialization (focusing on a single sport) in youth sports can, according to the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP), result in early burnout, emotional stress and overuse injuries. However, the risks can be mitigated by following recommendations by AAP.

Weighing the decision to specialize

Research shows that the physical development of children is better among those who play a variety of sports prior to puberty. Encouraging kids to experience a overuse injuries in youth sportswide range of sports activities also means they’ll be much less likely to lose interest or quit altogether. Studies show that children who specialized in a single sport from a young age tend to have more short-lived athletic careers.  The AAP recommends that children put off specializing in a sport until about age 15 or 16.

It’s important to determine why you or your child thinks he or she should specialize. More often than not, college scholarships are a motivator.  Be realistic about such opportunities: on average, 8% percent of high school athletes succeed in making a college team, but only 1% of those make it on an athletic scholarship.

Specialization and overuse injuries

Specialization can lead to overuse injuries, which can be muscle, bone, tendon or ligament damage resulting from repetitive stress and lack of healing time. One of the most common overuse injuries among athletes is shin splints.

Alarmingly, overuse accounts for half of all sports medicine injuries among children and teens. Children and teens are more susceptible to overuse injuries than adults because their still underdeveloped bones don’t recover as well from stress.

Preventing overuse injuries

So, if the decision has been made to specialize, there are steps that can be taken to lower the risk of overuse injuries.

Be Prepared:  It’s critical that all athletes maintain their fitness level both in and off season. General and sport-specific conditioning during the preseason are also extremely important. An evaluation by a physician prior to participation is the most essential step in determining whether a child can safely play his or her chosen sport. This should be done four to six weeks prior to practice and play to allow for time to address any potential obstacles to participation.

Train Smart: Weekly training times, distances, and repetitions should only be increased by 10% each week. For example, a 15-mile per week run should only be increased to 16.5 miles the following week, 18 miles the week after that and so on. Sport-specific trainingOveruse injuries in youth sports should vary. For instance, runners incorporate a diversity of running surfaces by running on the road, on a treadmill, on grass and in a pool. Likewise, training should include a variety of workouts, such as treadmills/ellipticals, weight lifting, and swimming.

Rest Smart: Training every day is a sure path to emotional and physical stress. Athletes should allow time for recovery by taking at least one day off every week from training, practice and  play. It’s just as important to take four to eight weeks off during the year from a specific sport.  A good rule of thumb is one month off for every six months of training and play.

Avoid Burnout: Overtraining can alter an athlete’s physical, hormonal and mental performance. Remember that a child should enjoy participating and the training should be age appropriate. They shouldn’t look at it as a job or a test. Be aware of changes in the athlete’s eating and sleeping habits. In particular, be alert for changes in or cessation of a girl’s menstrual period. Don’t hesitate to consult a physician if such changes are observed.


Sources:

Youth Athletes and Concussion Recovery

Too many parents following outdated medical advice

Starve a cold, feed a fever. Swimming within 30 minutes of eating causes cramps. Cracking your knuckles causes arthritis. Tilt the head back to stop a nosebleed. All outdated but once heavily relied upon advice from the medical community. Sadly, these and similarly unsubstantiated notions continue to circulate. And apparently so are incorrect ideas about concussion recovery.

Despite ongoing media attention and education efforts surrounding concussions, research shows that many parents still rely on outdated advice when monitoring their concussed children. Where once the impact of concussions was downplayed, apparently now parents are going to the opposite extreme and impeding recovery.

A national survey conducted by UCLA Health asked 569 parents how they would care for a child with concussion symptoms that persisted a week following the head injury. More than 75% said they would wake their child to check on them throughout the night and 84% said they would not permit the child to participate in any physical activity. About 65% said they prohibit use of electronic devices.

Making a healthy recovery

Frequent disruption or lack of sleep can affect memory, moods and energy levels, which are exactly what doctors use to measure concussion recovery. Once the child has been examined by a medical professional and determined to be at no further risk, sleep will help the brain recover more quickly, according to Christopher Giza, a UCLA paediatric neurologist.

And while contact sports are to be avoided until the child is fully recovered and cleared by a medical professional, mild exercise and aerobic activities such as walking and bike riding promote the healing process and overall good health.

As for electronic devices, it’s a good idea to keep kids off them during the early days of the injury. But easing them into their normal social, intellectual and physical activity is what’s best.

Most concussion patients make a full recovery, though dizziness and headaches can persist for weeks. Parents should always heed the advice of the physician monitoring the child and remember that rest and pain relievers for headaches are the best treatments in most cases.


Source: “Parents following outdated concussion tips,” www.sbs.com.au. 08 Sept. 2016.

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?” futurity.org. 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,” www.ibtimes.co.uk. 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.” nytimes.com. 09 Nov, 2015.