Soccer ball

Heading soccer ball is not smart for the brain

By Robert Preidt

Health Day reporter

WEDNESDAY, Feb. 1, 2017 (HealthDay News) – A common football move – bouncing the ball off the head – may not be as harmless to the brain as it has been thought, new research shows.

A study of more than 200 adult amateur soccer players of both sexes found that regularly “heading” the ball, as well as receiving accidental hits to the head, significantly increased a player’s risk of concussion. .

“The prevailing wisdom is that routine football leadership is harmless and we only have to worry about the players when they have unintentional head collisions,” said study director Dr Michael Lipton of Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York City in college. Press release.

“But our study suggests that you don’t need an overt collision to justify this type of concern,” Lipton said. He is professor of radiology, psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Einstein.

Another concussion expert who reviewed the results agreed.

The study “appears to provide further evidence that such practices in football can put athletes at risk for head injury,” said Dr Jamie Ullman. She directs Neurotrauma at North Shore University Hospital in Manhasset, NY

Much of the research on sports-related concussions has focused on high-impact sports, such as football or hockey. But head trauma specialists have long known that other sports, including football and rugby, can also carry risks.

In previous studies, Lipton said his team found that “30 percent of football players who had more than 1,000 titles per year had a higher risk of microstructural changes in the white matter of the brain, typical of traumatic brain injury, and worse cognitive performance. “

Exploring the problem further, the new study focused on online questionnaires answered by 222 New York-area adult amateur football club players, male and female. All had played football for at least six months during the previous year.

According to the survey, men received an average of 44 headshots in two weeks, while women had an average of 27. and 37 percent of men.

Players who regularly headed the ball with their heads were three times more likely to show concussion symptoms than those who did not often hold the ball with their heads, Lipton’s team reported.

Players who suffered accidental head impacts two or more times in a two-week period were six times more likely to show concussion symptoms than those who did not suffer accidental head impacts , depending on the results.

According to the report, of those who directed the ball to the head or reported accidental impacts to the head, 20% had moderate to severe concussion symptoms.

Of the seven players with very severe symptoms, six had at least two unintentional hits to the head in two weeks, four were among those who directed the ball the most, and three were in the group that directed the ball the most. the head.

Lipton stressed that the findings cannot be generalized to children, adolescents or professional football players.

Still, “our results certainly indicate that the head is more than just a ‘sub-concussion’ impact, and that head-related concussions are common,” Lipton said. “We need to provide proper care to those who suffer from these injuries and make efforts to avoid multiple head hits, which are particularly dangerous.”

It means watching out for symptoms, he added.

“Many players who lead the ball frequently experience classic concussion symptoms – such as headaches, confusion and dizziness – during games and practices, even if they are not diagnosed with a concussion. “, explained Lipton.

“People with concussions should avoid additional collisions or impacts to the head over the following days or weeks when their risk of sustaining a second concussion is extremely high,” he said. “Because these injuries go unrecognized and unmanaged, there can be significant clinical consequences in the short and long term. “

Dr. Salman Azhar is a neurologist and director of stroke services at Lenox Hill Hospital in New York. He said the new findings are consistent with previous studies and the risk of concussion appeared to increase with the frequency of impacts to the head.

“The risk of having moderate to severe symptoms increased when the involuntary titer was reduced from one in every two weeks to two in every two weeks,” Azhar noted.

The study was published online on February 1 in the journal Neurology.