This week, the 6th to the 15th of October is the Concussion Awareness Week initiated by ThinkTaylor to educate the schools, colleges, soccer clubs, coaches, referees, trainers, and parents about concussions in soccer. In this post, I am going to discuss what is a soccer concussion, promote the #TTPledge, and offer some safety gear options.
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I suffered a concussion injury back in 1982, not while I am playing soccer but when I climbed a platform to fly my kite, you can call me a foolish kid.
Therefore, this topic means a lot to me because I have gone through this awful experience once in my life.
Taylor Twellman (ThinkTaylor) is a former MLS player for the New England Revolution and the USMNT who ended his soccer career early due to a concussion.
He made it his mission to educate soccer players and parents about concussion, thus, the birth of the ThinkTaylor program in 2007.
The US Soccer also has an ongoing campaign “Recognize To Recover” that is aimed at promoting safe playing and reducing injuries to soccer players of all ages.
This week they combined their efforts to make awareness on concussion prevention, identifying the symptoms, treatment, and support
What Is Concussion?
A concussion is a serious non-life-threatening injury to the brain, but a repeated concussion can cause permanent injury in a person’s lifetime.
In a layman’s analogy, the brain is the supercomputer but it is a soft mushy matter like toothpaste, full of blood, slippery, floating in cerebrospinal fluid that is contained in the skull for protection.
When the skull (head) is hit against another object, or an object hits the head, the brain is literally rattled inside the skull due to a sudden blow (sorry for being blunt).
These hard blows cause brain injury called a concussion.
The following statistics are collected from the UPMC Sports Medicine regarding concussion in sports:
- Between 1.7 and 3 million sports and recreation-related concussions happen each year. Around 300,000 are football-related.
- 5 of 10 concussions go unreported or undetected.
- 2 in 10 high-school athletes who play contact sports, including soccer and lacrosse, will suffer a concussion this year.
- Girls’ soccer sees the second-most concussions of all high school sports. Girls’ basketball sees the third most.
- The UPMC Sports Medicine Concussion Program sees more than 17,000 patients each year:
- 30 percent are from outside the state of Pennsylvania.
- About 70 percent are high school-aged.
Any activity that may risk a hit to the head, intentional or not, can cause a concussion.
So, there are a lot of potential causes but the most common ones are motor vehicle collisions, falls, sports injuries, and bicycle accidents.
A concussion is high in contact sports such as football, soccer, lacrosse, rugby, boxing, and basketball.
In soccer, the common causes of concussion are:
- Collision with another player
- Head to head collision
- Head to elbow, knee, or foot collision
- Player heading the ball
- A ball hitting the head unintentionally
- When a player falls to the ground and hits his or her head
- Collision with the goalpost – it is rare but has happened in the past.
Signs And Symptoms
One fateful Sunday afternoon in 1982 I had a very bad fall from a platform about 5 meters above the ground and hit my head resulting in a huge cut on my forehead.
Some of the signs and symptoms below are from my own experience.
The signs and symptoms of concussion can be noticed immediately after the incident, but for some, it may take hours, days, weeks, and months.
What Happened To Me
From my own experience, it was an immediate blackout (not unconscious), I can talk but cannot remember anything at all.
My mum later told me that I was talking nonsense. I was more worried about how I looked and tried to stand in front of the mirror.
After about 5 minutes or so I remember hearing my mum crying as she tried to clean the cut while my dad is frantically on the phone calling a relative to transport us to the hospital.
I do not remember much about the journey to the hospital but when I got my senses back there was a huge bandage on my head, almost covering my eyes and I stayed in the hospital for 2 days for observation.
Every single muscle, bone, and tendon in my body was sore, especially my head.
The following are the common signs and symptoms of concussion but I have added my own experience to it:
- Memory problems – I have problems putting names to faces even now in my 40s.
- Confusion – Yes, I was confused for the next 4 hours or so.
- Drowsiness or feeling sluggish – Yes, minutes after the fall
- Dizziness – Yes, minutes after the fall
- Double vision or blurred vision – Yes, minutes after the fall
- Headache – this is probably the most painful headache I ever had and lasted for almost 2 weeks. Trust me painkillers only works for a few hours.
- Nausea or vomiting – none but I did not eat solid food for days
- Sensitivity to light or noise
- Balance problems – yes, I have balance problems.
- Slowed reaction to stimuli
The signs and symptoms depend on how bad the impact was and also for individuals, not every incident and individuals are the same.
Some don’t show any signs and it goes unreported.
Responsibility To Seek Treatment
It is everybody’s business to look out for friends and families for signs and symptoms of concussion.
If someone suspected that he or she has suffered a concussion he or she has to seek medical treatment.
Parents especially should observe their kids if they suspected a concussion and go to the hospital as soon as possible.
The ThinkTaylor campaign is aimed at helping parents, players, coaches, teachers, and friends to identify the injury and seek medical treatment.
What To Do When A Player Is Injured
Concussion and also occur with spinal injury, therefore, it is important when a player is down on the ground not to move him or her.
If you absolutely have to do it then make sure the back, neck, and head remain stationary to avoid causing more damage.
Call the ambulance as soon as possible.
Diagnosis Treatment And Recovery
Diagnosis for a concussion requires a doctor to ask questions about how the injury happened and do a physical examination.
A specialist doctor can check the eyes for visual evidence of concussion.
A more serious concussion may require a CT scan and MRI scan to determine the extent of the injury and if there is bleeding and swollen brain then surgery will be required.
Studies have shown that only 1% of concussion injury needed surgery at all.
Doctors may recommend painkillers to relieve pain and alare so onbe the lookout for depression that normally comes with injury recovery.
The patient is usually placed under physical and cognitive rest and about 80-90% of the symptoms of concussion are usually cleared within 7-10 days.
However, it is noted that children’s and adolescents’ recovery time is a bit longer.
Prevention of concussions in soccer is every stakeholder’s business.
Rules to prevent concussion must be developed and enforced by the school, tournament management, and coaches.
Rules must include wearing of safety equipment, ensuring goalposts are padded, correct ball sizes are played with, and teaching kids how to play safely.
Athletic Trainers are highly qualified health care professionals who are experts in sports injury prevention and management. It is best to engage their service for advice and assistance.
Parents must ensure their kids wear safety headgear that is of good quality and communicate with the referee and coach if they are worried about a concussion.
If you are driving or traveling in a car please do not forget to put on your seat belt because it saves lives.
In homes and it is advisable to remove obstacles that may cause kids and usually older people to fall and injure their heads
Read my post 10 Best Soccer Headgear For Kids Review to get the best headgear for your kid.
Taking The #TTPledge
The US Soccer, through the Recognize To Recover and ThinkTaylor has set up a pledge where you can register your support to educate yourself and participate in the campaign.
I have placed the link below for you to access the website to make your pledge.
===>Take The #TTPledge Here<===
Suggested Headgear For Soccer And Bicycle
Headgear for soccer has become increasingly popular over the years due to concussion awareness
Here are 2 headgear manufactured by reputable vendors that I highly recommend after doing some research.
Headgear 1: Storelli ExoShield Head Guard
- #1 RATED SOCCER HEADGEAR: Rated as the #1 soccer head guard by Virginia Tech
- Reducing the risk of sports head injuries by an estimated 84%.
- Sleek yet heavy-duty design provides 360-degree impact protection from cuts, bruises, and contusions.
Headgear 2: Full 90 Sports Premier Performance Soccer Headgear
- Advanced head protection
- Interchangeable padding
- Lightweight/Low Profile
- Cool Max fabric
- SIZING: Measure completely around your forehead at the fullest part pulling the tape measure snug. Small / Medium: 19 to 22 inches (49-56 cm), Large: 21 7/8 to 24 inches (55-62 cm)
Related: Best Soccer Headgear For Kids
For kids who love riding bikes – I don’t know who doesn’t, here are 2 helmets I recommend:
Helmet 1: Ventura Children’s Cycling Helmet
- Colorful children’s design
- Microshell uppercase and hard case below
- Big vents for air circulation with fly-net
- Integrated visor
- Secured fitting by universal adjustment ring-system for head sizes from 50-57 cm
- Gender: Female
- Material: Plastic
- Color: Pink
- Dimensions: 12 inches long x 9 inches wide x 6 inches high
Helmet 2: Ventura Sea World Childrens Helmet 50-57 cm
- Colorful children’s design
- Big vents for air circulation with fly-net
- Secured fitting by universal adjustment ring-system for head sizes from 50-57 Cm
- Color: Blue
- Gender: Male/Female
- Available sizes: Universal Fit
- Materials: Plastic Microshell, nylon strap
- Dimensions: 8 inches x 6 inches x 10 inches
Although not mandatory by FIFA, players are allowed to wear head guards and face masks as long as it is made of materials that do not pose any danger to other players.
Concussion and other injuries can be minimized if all the stakeholders take responsibility for addressing players’ safety.
The stakeholders are the schools, colleges, soccer clubs, coaches, referees, trainers, and parents. For parents, make sure your kids wear a head guard to protect against concussions.
You can also check my guide on 6 Important Goalie Gear For Soccer You Must Not Ignore
Do you think FIFA should make head guards mandatory? Let me know in the comments below.