For teenagers who play soccer, there are bound to be some bumps to the head from time to time. But a new study has found that concussions are common among middle-school girls who play soccer, and the majority of these girls continue to play when they have concussion symptoms.
This is according to a new study published in JAMA Pediatrics.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there are an estimated 173,286 sports- and recreation-related traumatic brain injuries, including concussions, among children and adolescents aged up to 19-years-old in the US every year.
The research team, led by Dr. John W. O'Kane of the University of Washington Sports Medicine Clinic in Seattle, notes that approximately 50,000 of these concussions are linked to high school soccer players.
"While high school athletes are represented in the concussion literature, youth players traditionally lack injury tracking systems and are largely unstudied, which is concerning since younger age and female sex are risk factors for sports-related concussion," write the study authors.
With this in mind, the investigators set out to determine the incidence rate, frequency and duration of concussion symptoms among female youth soccer players, and to find out whether their symptoms cause them to seek medical care and stop playing soccer.
Almost 60% of girls played soccer with concussion symptoms
To reach their findings, the researchers used email surveys and interviews to analyze 351 female soccer players aged between 11 and 14 years.
Among all players, soccer was played for a total of 43,742 hours, during which time 59 concussions occurred.
Incidence of concussion was 1.2 per 1,000 athletic exposure hours, and symptoms of concussion lasted an average of 9.4 days (median 4 days).
Contact with other players accounted for 54.3% of concussions, while heading the ball accounted for 30.5%.
The concussion symptoms reported included dizziness, drowsiness, concentration problems, light sensitivity, confusion, irritability, headache and nausea.
The researchers found that 44.1% of the girls received medical attention for their concussion, and 58.6% continued to play soccer with concussion symptoms.
The study authors stress that based on their findings, future studies are needed to create education strategies that ensure players understand and report concussion symptoms. They say parents and coaches should make sure medical evaluations are carried out and that players are fit to return to play.
"Future studies should also compare short- and long-term outcomes for those who seek medical care and return to play according to recommended guidelines vs. those who do not seek medical care and/or return to play prematurely."
Medical News Today recently reported on a study suggesting that brain rest for teenagers who suffer concussion may help speed up recovery, while another study suggests that after a concussion, brain abnormalities are visible months later.