Soccer headers could cause brain injury
While the impact sustained from heading a soccer ball is much less than a blow to the head from a ramming linebacker, soccer players who frequently head a ball could see a decline in their cognitive abilities, according to a study published in the online journal PLoS ONE.
The study tested the cognitive function of high school girls by asking them first to point away from a target on a screen, then to point to a target on a screen. Pointing away from a target, according to researchers, requires a voluntary cognitive response, while pointing to a target is a reflexive response. The girls who played soccer were much slower at the task that required them to point away from a target, indicating damage to their voluntary cognitive responses.
Although the results were not conclusive, researchers hypothesized that the sub-concussive hits to the head sustained during a soccer game could cause the same kind of damage to the frontal lobes as a mild traumatic brain injury.