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Concussions: Is Soccer the Next Football? 

iStock/Thinkstock(TORONTO) -- Soccer is the most popular and fastest-growing sport around the globe. And more American kids are getting a piece of the action. But in this sport where shin guards are the strongest form of protection, could parents be unaware of soccer's hidden risk to the brain?

In a review of 49 articles, Canadian researchers at the Neuroscience Research Program at St. Michael's Hospital in Toronto shed light on the dangers of playing soccer. The authors reveal that, in soccer, females have a higher incidence of concussions than males. In fact, girls’ soccer accounted for 8.2 percent of sports-related concussions, the second-highest sport after football.

Even worse, many of these injuries go unnoticed. More than 60 percent of varsity soccer players had suffered symptoms of a concussion during their playing careers, yet only 19.2 percent realized it.

The authors showed that defensemen and goalkeepers are at greatest risk for concussions. Alarmingly, older and retired soccer players were significantly impaired in conceptual thinking, reaction time and concentration.

Perhaps this information can serve as a heads-up to parents and schools about the dangers of this not-so-benign sport.

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