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Soccer women, at higher risk of concussion, take precautions

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Thursday, Oct. 2, 2014

By Kari Osep


KARI OSEP/CRONKITE NEWS: New information tonight in the health battle against concussions. Researchers at the Department of Veterans Affairs studied the brains of deceased NFL players. They found brain damage in 80 percent, but football isn’t the only sport dealing with concussions. I had the chance to see why women who play soccer are the most likely to experience this trend.

KARI OSEP/CRONKITE NEWS: As these ASU soccer players battle it out on the field their coaches battle to keep them safe.

KEVIN BOYD/ASU WOMEN’S SOCCER COACH: From a soccer perspective, we’ve been on this for years now.

KARI OSEP/CRONKITE NEWS: Female athletes typically have a weaker neck strength than males, therefore the whiplash effect from heading a ball or landing after a jump causes more problems.

KEVIN BOYD/ASU WOMEN’S SOCCER COACH: A big part of it is education, teaching development and technique.

KARI OSEP/CRONKITE NEWS: Coach Kevin Boyd makes his team do special exercises to help prevent any head or spinal injuries.

KEVIN BOYD/ASU WOMENS SOCCER COACH: And I think neck strength adds in for sure.

KARI OSEP/CRONKITE NEWS: But because concussions are still a major threat in soccer, Banner Concussion Center has found methods to help speed up the recovery time.

BRYCE NALEPA/ATHLETIC TRAINER: We look at their eyes, we look at their vestibular system and we try to look at their cognitive ability and try to bring all those parts together to see what’s effective.

KARI OSEP/CRONKITE NEWS: Athletic trainer Bryce Nalepa wants people to realize that football is not the only sport with concussion risk.

BRYCE NALEPA/ATHLETIC TRAINER: There’s no female counterpart for football. So obviously the amount of concussions that happen in football is going to still show a higher incidence in the male population.

KARI OSEP/CRONKITE NEWS: Coach Boyd has seen his women athletes take the hits.

KEVIN BOYD/ASU WOMENS SOCCER COACH: We’ve had players who have been out for significant amounts of time and have gone through symptoms where you just feel awful for them.

I think every sport has some inherent dangers and that part of growing up is learning how to manage those.

KARI OSEP/CRONKITE NEWS: The important factor that both Coach Boyd and Nalepa wanted to make sure athletes know, is that regardless of the severity of the concussion, athletes taking care of themselves is much more important than any competition.