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Soccer is a rival to football as a cause of concussions

Soccer has made considerable strides in popularity in the U.S. in recent decades, particularly among children and teens. U.S. Youth Soccer reports that there were nearly3 twice as many registered soccer players under 19 in 2014 (3 million) as in 1990.

With the increasing popularity of the game, not surprisingly, has come a rise in injuries. There are more injuries caused by soccer than any other sport except football among high school athletes. Among girls, soccer injuries are the leading sports-related cause of visits to the emergency room.

Among the most common soccer injuries are concussions and other head injuries. Experts speculate that one reason for the increase in reported injuries is that coaches and parents are more aware of the dangers posed by concussions and more likely to recognize the symptoms than people were in the past.

Obviously, a common cause of soccer-related injuries is heading the ball. Even worse, perhaps, is when two players move to head the same ball and hit each other's heads. One sports doctor also notes that part of the reason for the large number of soccer injuries is that the "range of athleticism especially at the youth and preteen level is pretty broad." Unlike football, kids often join a soccer team "to be with their buddies."

There has been more emphasis in recent years in teaching young players techniques to help avoid serious injuries. Further, the U.S. Soccer Federation has restricted the practice of heading for players in the 11 to 13 age range. It's banned for kids younger than that.

Concussions at any age can cause serious long-term consequences. However, for kids, a concussion can impact brain development. That's why it's essential that parents observe their children closely while they're playing soccer and ensure that if they are injured, they are removed from the game and properly examined immediately. Coaches and officials who fail to properly act when a young player can potentially be held liable.

Source: The Gazette, "Surge in ER visits for injuries, concussions from soccer," Lindsey Tanner, AP, Sep. 12, 2016

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