Why Athletes Need to Be Aware of the Concussion Threshold

Recent studies have focused on determining a concussion threshold in athletes. Although the impact and problems associated with concussions have been studied extensively, the latest research has focused on finding a dangerous threshold. Since concussions are often unavoidable in many sports, the researchers wanted to discover the limit before serious and irreversible brain damage occurs.

Soccer.
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Finding an Injury Threshold

In many sports, concussions are an inevitable part of participation. Although precautions are taken and helmets can help, they have not completely eliminated this issue. A concussion threshold can help establish the number of head injuries that can occur before the athlete suffers permanent damage. Researchers have been focused on finding the concussion threshold for several years. A recent study from the University of North Carolina has used real-time data collection with a biomechanical approach to find the threshold. The study points out that many concussions are never diagnosed, their impact is not documented well and that a threshold varies greatly for each athlete.

Specific Danger to Soccer Players

Heading the ball is seen on soccer fields on a daily basis. However, this simple technique can have devastating consequences for the athletes. A study from the Albert Einstein College of Medicine has found that soccer players who head the ball more than 1,000 to 1,500 times a year are permanently damaging their brain cells. The researchers used a wide range because each athlete has a different threshold for brain trauma. Considering the length of a typical soccer season and the amount of time spent in practice, many players easily go over this range.

This study focused on an area that is often ignored in soccer. Since heading rarely results in a severe injury that requires treatment, many athletes wrongly assume that it does not result in a concussion. The researchers have shown that heading a soccer ball does damage the brain and mimics a concussion. It can lead to cognitive impairment and permanent brain cell damage.

Further Research

Concussion thresholds are still being investigated for many sports, and data continues to be collected. Nevertheless, current research already shows that more precautions are needed to stop brain damage in athletes. In the future, there may be specific limits on the number of times a soccer player can head a ball before causing permanent problems.

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Lana has a B.S. degree in Biology and Chemistry. She is an avid athlete, youth coach and follows several sports. Follow @Lana_Bandoim on Twitter.

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Updated Thursday, Jan 12, 2012