Is Heading A Soccer Ball Dangerous?

When I started reading a recently published study, I thought the answer was yes. But after reading the study – and an expansion by the authors in an interview in the New York Times – I think the answer is that we really don’t know. 

What we do know is that soccer produces a lot of concussions. Many of these result from body to body contact – soccer can be a surprisingly physical sport.

This recent study used a novel method to do cognitive testing on high school girls after they headed a ball a number of times in practice. The data showed that there performance was somewhat lower than a control group – especially if they headed a lot of balls.

But there were plenty of limitations to the study. Most importantly, we’d need to see a full longitudinal study that included a large sample, measurement of cognitive performance before and after playing soccer, and a longer window of follow-up.

So while the question is extremely important, the only thing that is clear is that we don’t really know the answer yet.

Soccer Ball via Shutterstock.com

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