Toronto FC and Holland Bloorview are working to give youth baseline testing and concussion education.
Remy Cattell took a baseline concussion test with her hockey team ― she was a random participant in a study by the concussion centre at Holland Bloorview Kids Rehabilitation Hospital ― but an incident on the soccer field landed her back at the centre, tired and dizzy.
Cattell had just started the eighth grade when a fellow player on her Leaside Tigers competitive soccer team cleared a ball from the team’s defensive end.
The ball hit Cattell, about five metres away, in the head.
She was knocked to the ground. The ringing in her ears kept her from hearing anything properly. She left the game but tried returning, ultimately for just a few minutes, once the ringing stopped.
Two years on, Cattell, 14, knows she suffered a concussion, the blow to her head enough to jiggle her brain. But at the time, she wanted to play.
“I didn’t really know about concussions or that it could happen to me,” Cattell said. “It probably was made worse than it needed to be.”
Her mother Cory and their family doctor didn’t know what to do. It wasn’t until Cory remembered the baseline test that Cattell returned to Holland Bloorview for help.
“When it first happened, I was so lost,” Cory said. “Calling the doctor, trying to find out what do I do, who do I call, how do I get help, what kind of things am I supposed to look for?”
A lack of awareness about concussions and how to deal with them is not unusual in young athletes and their parents, said Dr. Nick Reed, co-director and clinician scientist in Holland Bloorview’s Concussion Centre.
And while soccer might not be the foremost sport associated with the brain injury, it is still a contact sport that sees a tremendous amount of head contact, according to Michael Rabasca, Toronto FC’s director of high performance.
That’s part of the reason why the two organizations have teamed up for a one-year collaboration. The joint effort will focus on youth players in Toronto FC’s Academy. They will participate in the same baseline testing program Cattell did, and they will receive concussion education and training.
Reed and Rabasca hope teaching the group about concussions, while studying their tests for research, will be a step toward a safer game, both at the professional level and in amateur athletes like Cattell.
To date, Reed said, what’s lacking in people’s understanding of concussions is not the physical symptoms, such as headaches, dizziness and nausea.
“The injury itself has a wide range of symptoms: physical, cognitive, emotional and behavioural symptoms,” he said.
Young people recover differently, and sometimes more slowly, from concussions than adults, Reed said.
Cattell considers herself “pretty lucky” that she was only out of school for about a month. Two years later, she still plays soccer but doesn’t head the ball.
Initially, though, the stress of people not understanding her “invisible” injury hindered her recovery.
“People were still expecting me to be fine. I told my teacher I had a concussion but he was still sending me homework and still expecting me to get assignments done,” she said.
At that time, Cory said, her daughter struggled to even read.
“I was scared people wouldn’t believe me, because you can’t even see it,” Cattell said.
In professional sports, Rabasca said, sometimes such invisible injuries go unacknowledged.
“There is this hunger, desire, the social norm says, ‘You play, you don’t sit.’ We have too many examples of that at the pro level,” he said.
While those players’ intentions might be good, they’re not examples Rabasca wants Toronto FC’s academy players to follow.
In a group of about 120 participants, Rabasca believes between eight and 12 per cent of players have concussion concerns each season.
With the help of Holland Bloorview’s assessment and follow-through protocols, Rabasca says there is much less subjectivity when dealing with head injuries.
Today, he’s confident he’s sending fully fit players back on the field after a concussion.
“We’re not taking a gamble. We’re not sending players back on the field saying, ‘Our best bet is you’re going to be okay.’ ”
Armstrong, Laura. “Soccer Collaboration Tries to Get Ahead on Youth Concussions | Toronto Star.” Thestar.com. The Star, 17 July 2016. Web. 20 July 2016.
Starting this season, soccer players under 10 years old will be penalized for using their heads to strike the ball during a game.
Because of a new recommendation by the U.S. Soccer’s Player Safety Campaign, the Illinois Youth Soccer Association has placed a ban on the use of headers during soccer games, practices and tournaments.
Now, if a player intentionally heads a ball during a game, the opposing team will be awarded an indirect kick — the same penalty for handballs and fouls. Also, the the safety campaign recommends a limitation on the number of head balls players from 11 to 13 can perform a week.
Jacksonville Soccer Association President Daniel Hackett said the association — which works with players from preschool to eighth grade — will enforce the new rule for the fall session, but said it is already too late for the spring session, which has already started.
“It won’t be difficult for the younger kids, just a quick change,” Hackett said.”Starting at U-8, those kids are use to (headers). They are told to do that. It’s ingrained, you go up for headers.”
Hackett said the change is one that is needed, especially because of the youth players lack of knowledge on soccer-related concussions.
“A lot of those kids don’t know what its supposed to feel like, what it’s not supposed to feel like,” Hackett said. “They don’t always know something is wrong and with these younger sports there’s not a medical staff right there on call, watching every youth game.”
Hackett said the association coaches and referees will have to be vigilant in reminding the players of the ban until they get use to the new rule.
A study on concussion rates among younger players found there were 4.5 concussions for girls and 2.8 among boys for every 10,000 athletic exposures — a student participating in a game or practice.
“The rates are pretty high,” Hackett said. “For the younger children, that really has an effect.”
Hackett said this ban will also decrease the number of other head injuries, such as knocked out teeth from a headbutt gone wrong.
The change came after a group of parents and players brought a civil case against U.S. Soccer, U.S. Youth Soccer, the American Youth Soccer Organization, U.S. Club Soccer and the California Youth Soccer Association regarding problems with concussions in youth sports.
Along with the settlement that reformed the rules, U.S. Soccer also has to improve concussion awareness among coaches, referees and parents, as well as other regulations that help prevent more damage.
“It needs to change, it needs to happen,” Hackett said. “Just to doing away with it will fix a lot of things.”
Samantha McDaniel-Ogletree can be reached at 217-245-6121, ext. 1233, or @JCNews_samantha.
FORSYTH – Tricia Shumaker thought she knew what uncontrollable crying was, she has three kids.
But she realized she’d never truly experienced it until her then-8-year-old son Hayden Shumaker fell and hit his head during warmups before a YMCA basketball game.
“I thought it was like when they sob when you don’t let them have something from the grocery store,” Tricia said. “But he could not stop. That’s one of the symptoms of a concussion.”
Eleven months later, Hayden suffered another concussion, leaving the Shumakers worried about their son’s future.
While the chances of a concussion are higher for a child playing sports, the risk is different depending on the sport, limiting activity comes with its own health risks. The Shumakers struggle everyday trying to protect Hayden from any more damage to his brain, but also letting their 10-year-old be an active child.
Hayden’s first concussion happened two years ago, January 2014. During warmups at a YMCA basketball game, a teammate slid on the floor to chase after a ball and accidentally took Hayden’s legs out from under him. He fell and hit the back of his head.
“It just … smacked,” Tricia said. “Everybody was like (draws air through clenched teeth).”
The coaches ran out to check on Hayden and helped him off the floor and he walked over to his parents.
“We sat there for awhile,” said Hayden’s dad, Mike. “But he just couldn’t quit crying.”
The Shumakers headed to the emergency room, but on the way Hayden told them he felt fine, so they went home. But once they got there, Hayden began vomiting, so they got back in the car and went to the emergency room.
Hayden was diagnosed with a concussion and told to rest. He missed a week of school. His doctor told him no TV or video games, but that was never an issue.
“He didn’t even want to watch TV or play video games, it was so weird to watch an 8-year-old not want to do that stuff,” Tricia said. “It got to the point where his homework started piling up, so we decided he should work on it. I sat with him while he was doing it and I could see that he was trying, but he was getting frustrated because what he was thinking in his head wasn’t coming out on paper and he kept having to erase things.
“As a mom, it was like, ‘Wow, his brain is … hurt.’”
Hayden’s symptoms went away after about two weeks. He returned to school after a week and eventually even back to the basketball court, and later the soccer field.
Eleven months later, in November of 2014, Hayden was at the MidState Soccer Complex in Decatur. Mike was coaching Hayden’s older brother’s team and, while playing with a friend, Hayden tripped and fell backward. His head bounced off the ground.
Hayden went over and laid down on some sandbags, then approached his dad in tears. A few minutes later, he vomited.
The Shumakers went back to their doctor the next day and discussed with her the possibility of Hayden not doing recess and PE anymore, but she discouraged that.
“She told us it can happen anytime, he could fall down the steps and hit his head,” Mike said. “You can’t put him in bubble wrap.”
But there are ways to protect the head. Tricia said she brought up concussion headgear and their doctor told them it was a good idea. The Full 90 Protective Headgear the Shumakers purchased, the cost is between $30 and $40, is designed for soccer, but Tricia makes Hayden wear the device for basketball, PE, recess, bike rides and skateboarding as well.
Hayden, now 10, doesn’t fight it. He loves soccer, he said can’t imagine life without it and dreams of playing it professionally. He also knows that another concussion, which would make it three in a two-year span, and sports are probably out.
Mike said Hayden is extremely cautious about head injury, “If he even bumps his head, he is paranoid and freaked out.” If he forgets to bring his headgear to a game, he won’t take the field.
“I’m scared of getting another concussion, but I just don’t want to miss out on anything,” Hayden said.
Mike, who has coached soccer for 20 years, has seen concussion awareness evolve from putting obviously concussed players back in games if they said they were OK to now taking no chances, often keeping a kid who has hit his head out of a game for precautionary measures even if they don’t show signs of concussion. Also, the United States Soccer Federation, which MidState is a part of, has banned headers for children 11 and under.
Mike also said more and more kids are wearing concussion headgear and predicted eventually they’ll be as common as shin guards, even though he’s not 100 percent sure the headgear is effective.
“The science hasn’t been proven whether or not they really make a difference, but something is better than nothing,” Mike said.
Hayden said he thought it helped.
“I hit my head with it on during indoor practice, it still hurt, but not as much,” he said.
But even with the headgear, Tricia and Mike are concerned damage has already been done. Though 15 months passed since his last concussion, Hayden still shows residual effects. He gets motion sickness frequently and suffers from headaches during physical exertion.
“It makes me think, even though it’s been more than a year, his brain still isn’t completely healed,” Tricia said. “And I wonder, ‘Is that going to be a long-term effect, is he always going to get motion sick?’”
Mike’s worry is that Hayden may do additional damage, sports are only going to become more physical as Hayden gets older.
“He’s only 10 and he’s had two already, that makes me nervous,” Mike said. “But he likes soccer too much. I couldn’t tell him he couldn’t play sports anymore.”
Conn, Justin. “Family Takes Precautions after Son Suffers Two Concussions in One Year.” Http://herald-review.com/lifestyles/health-med-fit/family-takes-precautions-after-son-suffers-two-concussions-in-one/article_2c1a4bd7-d860-52f7-9964-2b03067f82bc.html. Herald-Review, 28 Jan. 2016. Web. 19 Apr. 2016.
CHICAGO(Via U.S. Soccer) – The United States Soccer Federation today introduced a player health and safety program called Recognize to Recover. The first-of-its-kind program aims to reduce injuries in soccer players of all ages and promote safe play by those on and around the field.
Recognize to Recover was developed with the help of medical experts and will provide coaches, players, parents and referees with information, guidance and educational materials to improve the prevention and management of injuries.
“Recognize to Recover will lead to better awareness and understanding of player health and safety initiatives and strengthen the role parents, players, coaches and officials play in preventing, protecting and addressing injuries,” said U.S. Soccer Chief Medical Officer George Chiampas. “While U.S. Soccer is launching the framework of Recognize to Recover today, this is just the beginning as more information around specific areas of focus will be rolled out in the coming months.”
Information about head injuries, including new guidelines regarding concussions, will be included in the program, along with other important player health and safety topics such as heat-related illness and dehydration, heart health, nutrition and injury prevention.
“As the national governing body of our sport, U.S. Soccer is committed to being the leader in lasting change that has a positive impact on the game,” said U.S. Soccer President Sunil Gulati. “We created Recognize to Recover to elevate player health and safety and bring players, coaches, parents and officials together to help ensure safe play at all levels of our sport.”
As part of Recognize to Recover, U.S. Soccer recently presented overall concussion guidelines that include rule changes that will reduce the possibility of head injuries while preserving the nature of the game. Players suspected of a concussion will be given plenty of time for evaluation by a health care professional without penalty or loss of a substitute. U.S. Soccer is also recommending that heading the ball be prohibited for children 10 and under, and to limit the activity to practice only for children ages 11 to 13.
“We know that the vast majority of concussions occur when there is contact between players trying to head the ball,” said Chiampas. “Whether that is head-to-head contact, elbow-to-head or their head hitting the ground while challenging for the ball in the air; by reducing the number of those aerial challenges to head the ball, we believe we will decrease the incident of concussions.”
“While the science on head injuries is still developing, these rule changes and recommendations are based on the advice of the U.S. Soccer medical committee. As we continue to learn more, we’ll have the flexibility to adapt to the findings and make the appropriate changes.”
As part of Recognize to Recover, U.S. Soccer will be working directly with current and former players to spread the message about the importance of player health and safety. More information about those player ambassadors will be provided in the near future.
Source: “U.S. Soccer Announces ‘Recognize to Recover’ Player Safety Program.” Soccer Wire. N.p., 02 Dec. 2015. Web. 02 Dec. 2015.
The United States Soccer Federation released new guidelines banning the practice of heading a soccer ball by children under the age of 10. The new guidelines also prohibit children between the ages of 11 and 13 from heading soccer balls in practice, but permit it in games.
The guidelines are part of a resolution reached in the Mehr class action concussion lawsuit that began in August of 2014. The case involved a group of parents and players who filed a class action suit in a United States District Court in California charging FIFA, the U.S. Soccer Federation and the American Youth Soccer Organization with negligence in handling head injuries of its participants. A judge ruled earlier that the claims against FIFA had no standing, but that the case against U.S. Soccer could continue.
The class action suit sought only rules changes, not financial damages.
The new U.S. Soccer guidelines were announced in a joint press release with the plaintiffs, and bring the litigation to a close.
The issue of head injuries in youth sports has taken on an increased urgency in recent years with the high-profile lawsuits brought against the National Football League (NFL) and the National Hockey League (NHL). A report by the Institute of Medicine and the National Research Council of The National Academies concluded that youth sports, such as field hockey, wrestling, women’s lacrosse and soccer, provide as much, if not more, danger of concussion as football and ice hockey.
In addition, a 2012 study reported by the Head Case Co. determined that while soccer has fewer concussions per year than football, the severity of concussions is significantly higher.
As part of the settlement, the U.S. Soccer Federation also agreed to modify substitution rules in games to allow players who may have suffered a concussion to be evaluated without penalty. The guidelines also call for more education for players, parents, coaches and referees, and for more uniform practices for handling youth concussions. While the U.S. Soccer Federation guidelines will be mandatory for their youth teams and academies, they represent only recommendations for other youth soccer programs and leagues across the country.
Steve Berman, lead attorney for the plaintiffs, said, “This is a tremendous victory that will affect millions of young soccer players across the country.” He added, “We believe this decision sends a strong message to coaches and lays down paramount regulations to finally bring safety management to soccer.”
While this matter has been resolved for the U.S. Soccer Federation, the hot-button topic of head injuries in youth sports will likely continue to generate intense debate and no shortage of litigation.
Source: Torncello, Peter. “U.S. Soccer Federation Settles Youth Concussion Lawsuit.” The National Law Review. N.p., 16 Nov. 2015. Web. 16 Nov. 2015.
Player safety and well being in any sport should take precedence over all other considerations. It’s common sense. However, the latest decision by the U.S Soccer Federation to eliminate heading for children 10 and under has stirred the usually dormant waters of football regulations.
The restrictions came to life as the result of a settlement from a lawsuit that was filed against the leading youth soccer groups last year. A group of players and parents filed a class-action suit citing that player concussions were not being taken seriously by the authorities ruling the game.
The court ruled in favor of the plaintiffs, requiring the USSF to initiate standard protocols to follow when a player is deemed to have suffered a concussion. However the USSF is taking it a step further and have announced that they will be implementing a widespread initiative aiming to:
“Improve concussion awareness and education among youth coaches, referees, parents and players”;
“Implement more uniform concussion management and return-to-play protocols for youth players suspected of having suffered a concussion”;
“Modify the substitution rules to insure such rules do not serve as an impediment to the evaluation of players who may have suffered a concussion during games”;
“Eliminate heading for children 10 and under and limit heading in practice for children between the ages of 11 and 13”
In a statement from USSF, CEO and Secretary General Dan Flynn said: “We are proud to be leaders in the area of concussion education and management.” He also informed the public that the “player safety initiative was under way before the current lawsuit was filed”.
Flynn also shed light on the process that led to this decision: “USSF sought input from its medical science committee which includes experts in the field of concussion diagnosis and management, as well as from its technical advisors, to develop a true consensus based program.”
However, in a recent article on CBS News, Dr. Wendy Sue Swanson mentioned that “it’s unclear what degree heading causes concussion and long standing injury.” The Executive Director of Digital Health at Seattle Children’s Hospital, also noted that there is no agreed upon consensus by pediatric experts on whether heading the ball does cause damage to the brain.
It remains to be seen how the US Soccer Federation will be able to implement the initiative. Heading is an integral part of the game, and the notion that limited headers will be allowed per week during practice will be difficult to monitor. Other considerations come up as well: should a striker let a golden opportunity to score a goal pass by if they had reached their limit for the week? Should a defender under pressure, not head the ball back to the keeper and instead risk putting the keeper under more pressure by using their feet? How would players defend a set piece?
There is no arguing that concussion should definitely be addressed and prevented in youth soccer. But the USSF needs to also make sure that youth development is not hampered by the new decision.
Source: “US Soccer Federation Making Moves To Decrease Concussions In Youths.” SportTechie. N.p., 13 Nov. 2015. Web. 13 Nov. 2015.
SMYRNA, Tenn. (WKRN) – During football season, we hear about concussions all the time. At the high school level, all the way up to the NFL, players are being hit with the invisible injury.
Other youth sports are high risk, too, such as cheerleading.
Spirits were high at last year’s UCA National Cheerleading Championships in Orlando. The Stewarts Creek High School JV team won state last year, but one cheerleader was on the sideline.
She couldn’t cheer because of a serious injury she suffered during practice.“I was out for three months from cheer. I couldn’t do any physical activity,” Anna Smith told News 2.
“We had to do a front flip off the stunt and I ended up landing on my head,” Smith said. “I got a concussion and three compression fractures in my vertebrae.”
To many, that sounds like more like a football injury, but not to concussion experts.
Dr. Colleen Vanderkolk, a neurologist at Saint Thomas West, emphasizes in headaches and epilepsy.
“And the highest ones that we see, of course football is No. one, but then you also have hockey, we have cheerleading, soccer is actually very high in concussion, and gymnastics,” Vanderkolk said.She said sports other than football are also high risk for concussion.
Doctors say when it comes to concussions, early identification is key.
“The symptoms that you look out for is any headache, nausea, feeling of lightheadedness or dizziness, just feeling off. Those types of symptoms you have to look out for,” Dr. Vanderkolk told News 2.
Mot concussion patients recover in about 3 or 4 weeks.
Smith has since recovered from her injuries and is back to doing what she loves. Now she knows the risk better than anyone.
The Stewarts Creek JV co-ed team is competing for state again this weekend at the state championships in Murfreesboro.
Source:Caloway, Nick. “Football Not the Only Sport with High Risk of Concussions.” WKRNcom. N.p., 13 Nov. 2015. Web. 13 Nov. 2015.
RENO, NV — The United States Soccer Federation recently released new guidelines stating children 10 and under should not be heading the ball.
The Journal of the American Medical Association recently published a study in September 2015 that says out of nine youth sports studied (boys’ baseball, basketball, football, soccer, and wrestling and girls’ basketball, soccer, softball, and volleyball), the girls’ soccer concussion rate was second highest and the boys soccer rate was the fifth highest.
These guidelines will be mandatory for youth national teams but the USSF does not have the authority to implement these regulations at the local level.
Josh Etchegoyhen is a soccer coach and runs camps at the Reno Sportsdome and is in favor of the the new rules. “I know college female players that play soccer that have concussions on the same rate as NFL players. We need to protect these kids as long as we can as they are developing in these sports,” said Etchegoyhen.
And he doesn’t think it will impede the development of young players.
“There are a lot surfaces on the body that you can bring the ball out of the air with and heading is not necessarily the best surface for that,” said Etchegoyhen. “I see heading as passing and shooting so that can be taught later in life.”
Shari Whalen, a mother to three children who play soccer, agrees.
“It is a lot more important to me that later on in life my kids’ brains still work,” Whalen said. “It is less important that my eight-year-old is winning every soccer game because they have this particular skill.”
The new rules—which also include changes to substitutions—were released in response to a class action lawsuit.
These people are volunteers. Be nice. If you disagree with their vision, do so politely.
Referees make a tiny bit of money. Be nice to them, too.
Dealing with referees can be tricky. Through a certain age (in our area, U8), we have no referees, and coaches are responsible for making games fair and safe. Then coaches hand over that responsibility to referees who are often young, inexperienced and timid. These referees might not call the fouls that would have made coaches stop the game and talk to the kids. They might not even understand the simple mechanics of keeping a game running smoothly.
Most youth clubs — and certainly most referees — will tell coaches to say nothing to the refs other than “thank you” after the game. And that should be the goal. But you’ll run into some practical problems.
Some young refs don’t make clear signals — which team takes a throw-in, whether a free kick is direct or indirect, and so on. Many a U9 coach has yelled instructions to his team for how to take a free kick, something not often covered in practice, only to find that the other team is the one taking the free kick. Oops.
The bigger concern is safety. What do you do when a ref isn’t controlling the games, and the fouls are getting harder? What do you do when a kid gets bonked in the head, and you’re caught between obeying your licensing course’s concussion protocols and your club director’s admonition against yelling at the ref?
I’ll give two situations from my experience — one of which I’ll apologize for, one I won’t.
We had an All-Star tournament in which our guys were getting fouled a good bit. In the second game, with our second laissez-faire referee, I had to go out on the field to check on an injured player. I made a sarcastic comment to the ref: “You know, you can call fouls at U9.” He chirped back that they were 50-50 plays. Things went downhill from there. The ref could’ve handled it better, but I could’ve, too. When I surveyed youth referees about what I should’ve said in this situation, the responses ranged from “nothing” to “Pardon me, but this is a little more physical than we’re used to.”
Back in our House league, a hard shot nailed one of my players in the head. Somehow, he didn’t fall. He just held his head and started crying. Play continued. I screamed to stop play. The ref didn’t, the other team didn’t, and our team did. After the other team’s inevitable goal, I went out to check on our team’s injured player, and I yelled to my team not to worry about the goal they had conceded.
I’m not apologizing for the latter. My responsibility for my player’s safety trumps my responsibility to let refs build up their self-esteem.
The ref and I had a good conversation afterward, so all was well. Some of the other team’s parents might’ve thought I was a freak, but they could deal with it.
But that is, of course, a rare situation. Don’t yell at refs over offside calls. They’re going to get those wrong. And it’s often tough to see who played the ball before it went out of play for a throw-in. No harm will come from getting those plays wrong. Give the poor kid or well-intentioned adult a break.
So to sum it up: Safety first; shut up otherwise.
Source: Dure, Beau. “Youth Soccer Insider: When You Disagree with Volunteers and Refs — Do so Politely.” SoccerAmerica. N.p., 07 Sept. 2015. Web. 07 Sept. 2015.
Due to the recent United States Women’s World Cup victory, high intensity contact sports have once again been brought to the public eye. These contact sports have become a lifestyle — with the competitive demands of the sport increasing with a child’s age.
Children today are asked to choose one sport to invest all of their time and energy in hopes of a ticket to college or becoming a professional. However, are children capable of making a decision that will affect their lives long-term?
Recent discoveries have shown that serious brain damage is occurring in the form of Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy. With modern technological advances, we are now able to recognize and record cases of Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy, a disease that has previously been unacknowledged. It is caused by trauma and impact to the head.
As a result, it is most commonly found in individuals involved in the military and contact sports such as American football, soccer, hockey, and lacrosse. This disease attacks the regions of the brain that control emotion and memory, but effects differ based on age.
The players’ safety needs to be prioritized rather than validating the controlled brutality of the sports. Because children and parents struggle to make unbiased decisions, the ruling bodies of contacts sports, such as the NFL, have created some regulations.
Nevertheless, further measures need to be taken. Increasing the playing field’s size and reducing the number of players on the field would help to decrease the amount of head trauma.
Source: Rogliano, Miranda. “Letter: Player Safety a Priority.” The Sentinel. N.p., 17 July 2015. Web. 17 July 2015.