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Studies find that soccer players vulnerable to brain injuries

A recent study found that soccer players are at risk for traumatic brain injuries, and specifically those players who head the ball. The study found that there were structural differences consistent with concussions and traumatic brain injury between the brains of soccer players who had frequently headed the ball and those that did not. The researchers also conducted a study that found that soccer players who had been continuously heading a ball had trouble performing functions such as touching a spot on a screen where a little white dot was. A similar study done on soccer players in Germany found that in the brains of professional soccer players, there were changes in the areas of the brain responsible for memory, visual processing and attention.

From these facts, it is clear that football players are not the only sports players that are affected by traumatic brain injuries and concussions. While soccer is not as physically demanding of a sport as football, it is obvious that it carries some risk of brain damage from especially physical play. In particular, heading the ball, if done too many times, carries the risk of brain injury and the resulting mental health problems.

There is no apparent solution to this problem, as helmets have not been introduced for soccer players and are unlikely to be. In instances where they have been introduced for children's soccer, the American Youth Soccer Organization reported that they made little difference. An AYSO spokesperson stated that children felt more protected with the helmets and thus played even harder. The best probable solution for this issue is emphasizing care in playing soccer and testing for any possible symptoms of traumatic brain injury.

Anyone hurt by traumatic brain injuries due to sports is entitled to an appropriate financial compensation for medical bills, lost wages and other resulting debts resulting from the injury. This is to ensure that the player and his or her family does not endure financial hardship due to the injury. Anyone suffering from a brain injury is entitled to financial relief.

Source: Smithsonian, "American football players aren't the only ones with head injury issues," March 1, 2013

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