Concussion Awareness – Where is Youth Soccer Heading?

Courtesy SoccerRisk.com

Concussion awareness has greatly increased in all sports over the past few years.  In soccer, where the act of heading the ball is an integral part of the game, the discussion has been going on a bit longer.  Yet, youth soccer could be said to be behind the other sports in terms of developing and implementing guidelines for recognizing and diagnosing concussions.  Years ago medical studies on retired professionals indicated a heightened level of brain damage that was immediately (and not very scientifically) attributed to heading the ball.  Moreover, many people rushed to conclude that heading itself posed a risk to youth players based on a study of people who played and trained professionally over the course of decades.  The science wasn’t and still isn’t there to support such an inference.  However, it does highlight the need for awareness.

Most head injuries in soccer occur from collisions between players or between players and objects such as the goal post.  While we certainly should make sure coaches are teaching heading properly, our focus in a risk management area would look at the more likely causes of concussion, and establish a framework for managing concussion injuries.  What guidelines do you have in place for your club?

A few points to remember:

1. Concussions often occur with no loss of consciousness
2. Symptoms include a change in level of alertness, confusion, vomiting and extreme sleepiness
3. Players showing symptoms of a concussion should not be returned to the game and should be seen in an ER immediately
4. A player is not ready to resume competition just because symptoms have subsided.  Doctors will often recommend several weeks of no physical activity after the symptoms end.
5. Risk of permanent brain injury increases with successive concussions.

A concussion awareness plan should provide for (a) medical evaluation; (b) return to activity guidelines; and (c) tracking of prior head injuries.  At all times, be guided by the medical recommendations, not the subjective feelings of the player or parent.  Concussion awareness should be part of your volunteer training program.

For more information or help in developing a concussion awareness plan, visit our site.!

Philly.com article on concussion awareness.

Where Does Austin Club Soccer Go Next?

The consolidation of select clubs in the Austin area has had both positive and negative effects.  One of the oft mentioned negatives is the loss of old rivalries.  The days of the Capitals/Flyers rivalry or Thunder/Eagles are long gone.  In its place, intra-club match ups are often the most competitive matches of the season, and smaller clubs spend their time shooting at the “big kid” on the block.  More than the loss of rivalries, though, is the loss of history.  How many players and parents today know who the Capitals were, or that the ’70 Capitals boys team was the first Central Texas team to advance to the USYSA national championships?  Who has played a match at Longhorn Soccer Park, or can tell us who Laszlo was and why he used to yell “Bluebonnet” as a match came to a close?  Who remembers watching Milan Dovedan play with the Soccadillos and then coach for the Flyers?  Who remembers hanging out at the Cantina at Retama while waiting to play against the Generals?  Who would have thought that when the River City Rangers became the new kid on the block in 1991, that 20 years later they would be far and away the longest surviving club in Austin?  In 1991, the betting money was much more on the “All Star Soccer Club” which also started that year in the same area outlasting the Rangers.  Who remembers who the ASSC Director of Coaching was?

Continue reading