Purdue U. Studies Concussion Risks For Girls

By Jeff Neumeyer

September 5, 2013 Updated Sep 5, 2013 at 5:45 PM EDT

ALLEN COUNTY, Ind. (21 alive) --- Science is intent on studying the downsides of concussions in football, but now Purdue University researchers are focusing on the lasting impacts of head injuries in girls soccer.

In an American Journal of Sports Medicine study from 2008 to 2010, girls soccer finished right behind football as the sport with the most reported concussion cases.

Problems crop up when players are "heading" the ball, or are colliding with each other in the heat of the action.

Girls' necks and heads are smaller than their male counterparts, giving their brains less protection.

In soccer, players don't have the benefit of helmets to ward off hard hits.

Brock Rohrbacher, athletic director at Leo High School, says more emphasis is being placed on the risks, and how players need to come clean about the injuries they suffer.

" We try to educate the kids to communicate with the coaches, communicate with the trainer, tell us the truth. Don't try to hide something, you know, it's better to be safe than sorry," Rohrbacher said.

Researchers are having Purdue players wear stick-on sensors behind their ears, to record the power of jolts to the student-athletes heads in games and in practice.

The idea is to measure the velocity and force of hits to the head and then try to translate that somehow to what's happening to the brain.

The team will collect data in what is supposed to be a multi-season study.

Depending on the findings, maybe rules changes or new protective headgear will be proposed to try and keep girls soccer players safer on the field.

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