Can Soccer lead to Chronic Traumatic encephalopathy?

soccer head injury

 

Soccer is the only sport in the world where players score a header without wearing protective headgear. They deflect the ball travelling at a high speed, or stop, or redirect it, intentionally with their head. Doctors have always been concerned about chronic traumatic encephalopathy among soccer players because of heading the ball. There is also the risk of developing long term neurocognitive and motor deficits. This was the topic of research in a new study published in the journal Neurosurgery, the official journal of the Congress of Neurological Surgeons.
 
The study was led by Dr. Alejandro M. Spiotta of the Cleveland Clinic. The researchers found that although concussions of the head are common in soccer players because of striking of head against another player or on the goal post, there is little evidence to prove that heading the ball can lead to chronic traumatic encephalopathy. 
 
The doctors have stressed that a proper heading technique should be employed by the players every time they attempt to hit it with their head. It involves prior anticipation and pre-tensing of the neck muscles. Employing this technique absorbs the impact of the ball on the head. Use of newer soccer balls which do not retain moisture has also played an important role in protecting the players against the impact of the ball.
 
The researchers have opined that although they could not prove any direct association between heading the ball and chronic traumatic encephalopathy, long term brain injury cannot be ruled out. Some researchers have advocated the use of a protective headgear while playing, but there is always the risk of soccer players becoming complacent about their safety as the headgear may give them a false sense of security. Until a clear association is found between heading and chronic traumatic encephalopathy, the players can keep heading the ball. However, they should lay emphasis on adopting the proper heading technique.
 
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Date: 
Sunday, October 12, 2014

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