Concussions are an issue most athletes in contact sports have to worry about, but when the average person thinks concussion, the first thought that comes to mind is not related to women’s soccer.
According to a study released by the journal of athletic training, while football still holds the most concussions with 47 per 100,000 athletes, women’s soccer and basketball are not far behind, with 36 for soccer and 21 for basketball. In the sport of soccer, women are 64 percent more likely to sustain a concussion compared to men.
“Women have a tendency, at least in soccer not to use their arms for headers,” said Saddleback women’s soccer head coach Brandee Craig. “[Women] go up like a pogo [stick] tending to knock heads.”
While it is more likely for a women to jump for a header with her arms at her side, male soccer players can often be seen using their arms to protect their heads from injury while in the air, and using their hands to push off of incoming players in mid-air to avoid a collision of heads.
“Women don’t have necks as well developed as men, so the shock absorber, so to speak, is not as well developed in women,” said head injury specialist Dr. Robert Cantu in an interview with CBS.
It is also believed that female athletes will get checked for symptoms related to a concussion earlier then their male counterparts.
Jennifer Smith, a forward for Saddleback college women’s soccer, was involved in a collision of heads in a game on Oct. 9. “After the headbut I was hurt but am okay now,” Smith said. After the headbut, Smith was taken off the field and tested for a concussion but was ruled fit to play and put back in the game.
“I was put on 72 hour watch; you have to be on watch if you get hit in the head,” Smith said.
The 72 hour watch shows the importance of watching carefully after a head injury since some concussions may not show symptoms until a day or two after the injury.
Although statistics show girls are more likely to sustain concussions more research is needed to be conducted to determine a definite reason why women are more susceptible, as much of it is still just theory.
Health Center director Brenda Frame explained what to do in case of a concussion.
“Rest and follow orders precisely,” Frame said, “[And] most importantly, have a caregiver wake you up every two hours to make sure you are coherent and not confused.”