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Thursday, January 12, 2012
Could Heading in Soccer Lead to Brain Injury?
No Clear Link to Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy, So Far
From Science Daily:
Could heading the ball in soccer lead to degenerative brain disease, like that seen in athletes in other sports?
That's the question addressed by a review in the January issue ofNeurosurgery, official journal of the Congress of Neurological Surgeons.
As yet there's not clear evidence to link heading to short- or long-term brain injury, according to Dr Alejandro M. Spiotta of the Cleveland Clinic and colleagues. However, while research is ongoing, they stress the need for proper heading technique at all levels of organized soccer.
New Review of Evidence on Heading and Brain Injury Risk in Soccer
Soccer (called football outside the United States) is the only sport in which players use their unprotected heads to intentionally deflect, stop, or redirect the ball. Headed balls travel at high velocity both before and after impact, raising concerns about possible traumatic injury.
In 2002, English footballer Jeffrey Astle, known as a "formidable header," died with degenerative brain disease. The damage was consistent with chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE): a progressive neurodegenerative disease caused by repeated brain injury, seen in American football players and other athletes. Those reports have prompted concerns about similar risks in soccer players.
Although concussions are common in soccer, they more often result from the head striking another player or the goalpost, rather than heading the ball. But there's still concern about long-term injury related to repetitive trauma from heading.
Detailed biomechanical studies have been performed, showing that heading is a complex task in which significant energy is absorbed by the head. Emphasizing the importance of proper heading technique, studies have shown that anticipation and "pre-tensing" of the neck muscles play a key role in absorbing and redirecting the impact of a headed ball.Continue reading.
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