With the high risk of brain injuries in football, many young athletes and their parents are looking for safer athletic alternatives. Unfortunately, many of them are choosing soccer. Soccer is a great sport with a long history, but it also carries a similarly high-risk for concussions and long-term brain injury that often gets overlooked. In many reports, soccer comes second only to football for the highest number of brain injuries experienced every season.
According to a study done by the Sports Concussion Clinic, Division of Sports Medicine, Children’s Hospital Boston, football accounts for just under 57% (shown to the right in the pie chart) of concussions in high school athletes. These rates of concussions are alarmingly high for high school in particular and given that football is also one of the most popular sports played in America the volume of high school athletes who experience concussions is also extremely high.
The following sports are often at high risk for concussion: Football – The NFL has instituted a brain study program and asked players to donate their brains. Rugby; Boxing – 80% of professional boxers get a concussion; Ice hockey – 10% of hockey players suffer a concussion; Gymnastics; Wrestling; Soccer – 5% of soccer players receive a concussion
Football accounted for more than half of all concussions, and it had the highest incidence rate (0.60). Girls' soccer had the most concussions among the girls' sports and the second-highest incidence rate of all 12 sports (0.35). Concussion rate increased 4.2-fold (95% confidence interval, 3.4-5.2) over the 11 years (15.5% annual increase).
A few statistics about concussions. It is estimated that 10-15% of athletes experience concussions every year while playing contact sports! • 50% of athletes experience concussions. According to ...
Concussion vs. other injuries. Concussions account for a significant number of injuries in high school sports. In a 2012 study, researchers found that concussions account for over 15% of all injuries in some very popular sports. Boys’ ice hockey: 23%; Girls’ lacrosse: 21%; Cheerleading: 20%; Boys’ lacrosse: 17%; Football: 17%; Girls’ soccer: 15%
As of today, it is not conclusive that the normal activity of heading the ball in soccer is damaging to the brain or causes any negative effects. What is known is that concussion rates in soccer are as high as any sport including football and ice hockey. Almost ⅓ of concussions in soccer occur during the activity of heading the ball.
Despite a 3.2% decrease of participation in boys’ football, the proportion of concussions increased 1.045 fold and the rate increased 1.110 fold from 2010-2014 to 2015-2017. Girls’ soccer saw a 4.3% increase in participation and demonstrated a significant increase in average annual proportion (1.095 fold) and rate (1.210 fold) of concussions during the academic years 2015-2017 compared with 2010-2014.