CLINTON — Concussions don’t just happen to football players. According to Dr. Adam Schwebach, they happen to girls’ soccer players too.
“Girls’ soccer has one of the highest rates of concussion out of most of the sports that we see,” said Schwebach, a Ph.D. at the Neuropsychology Center of Utah in Clinton.
Contributing factors may be the significant head contact in the sport and that children and teenagers are playing more aggressively than they used to. Weaker neck muscles may also contribute to the number of concussions seen in girls, he said.
“In most cases people never lose consciousness Р that’s one of the misconceptions,” he said. “Most people who experience a concussion do not get knocked out. They go undetected and kids can get right back in and play.”
If people are not aware of the signs and symptoms, or if they minimize the severity of a concussion or dismiss it as some other problem, problems can result, he said.
“In some worst-case scenarios, long-term, permanent brain damage occurs as a result of a concussion,” he said. “Most children will recover within a brief period of time, but particularly if it goes undetected or untreated, significant cognitive disfunction can occur as a result of a concussion.”
For one family, a difficult experience began when a daughter playing soccer was hit so hard she flew up in the air, landed on her head and had a seizure.
The frightening experience became even more frightening when, after being treated at the hospital, they met with a doctor who told her she could not do anything for two months and if they didn’t comply there could be serious long-term implications.
They have since seen girls bounce up from an obvious head injury and insist they are fine and go back to play.
“Appropriate diagnosis and treatment is critical to make sure children don’t have long-lasting effects,” said Schwebach.
Those who aren’t knocked out could have other symptoms, such as headaches, nausea, dizziness, pressure in their heads. Other signs of concussion are being easily fatigued, having trouble concentrating, memory problems or being sensitive to light or sounds. “It is also very common to have psychological adjustment problems like depression and anxiety,” he said.
In addition, that first concussion puts the athlete at a higher risk of getting another one in the future, according to Schwebach.
Some leagues around the country are taking steps to prevent the injuries, said Schwebach.
In some youth leagues, heading the ball has been banned, other private leagues have talked about using protective headgear, though there is still a lack of evidence that headgear will prevent injury.
For more information check out the Sept. 13 edition of Davis Clipper.