The Other Football Concussion Issue

We have written about the perils of soccer on here a few times, including some cases; probably not enough.  Strike that last comment, it has not been enough.  Soccer has a concussion issue, one that is lying just beneath the surface waiting to rear its ugly head.  I will freely admit that I have done a disservice by not bringing more attention to this sport, but thankfully there is a writer who took a deeper look and provides excellent commentary on the issue.

His name, Leander Schaerlaekens and he writes for on the soccer side of things.  His article was not only a case-by-case indictment of the concussion issue in soccer; it provided some insight to why the issue is there;

In spite of the attention they’ve gotten, ice hockey and football of the gridiron variety do not have a monopoly on concussions. Soccer, which has long had a reputation for being a relatively safe sport in the U.S., is nearly as likely to cause brain injury.

Very true statement.

There isn’t much knowledge about the effect of concussions in soccer yet, making for an uncertain future for its victims. “I just don’t know what’s going to happen in 10 years because of the hits I’ve taken,” said former MLS and U.S. defender Jimmy Conrad, who retired in August after symptoms lingered following his seventh concussion. “The scary part of the process is that some doctors just don’t really know. We’re just scratching the surface of this, and it’s going to take 15 years of trial and error to get on top of it.”


“They’ve got to be man enough to be mature and say, ‘I know I’ve had six concussions and I know I need to not play with fire and wait until I’m symptom-free,'” Twellman said. “You can have an ankle replacement, you can have a knee replacement but you cannot have a brain replacement. Concussions can ruin your life.”


This article is brilliant to say the least, I don’t want to take away from the work Schaerlaekens did so PLEASE READ IT!!!  The moral of the story is AWARENESS; knowing the battle one would be fighting is the best way to actually fight the battle.

I will leave you with the final quote from the article, from Bryan Namoff;

“I haven’t felt normal for even a minute during this whole ordeal. There hasn’t been a single minute when I haven’t had pain in my head. I’m on a two-year headache.”

3 thoughts on “The Other Football Concussion Issue

  1. Don Brady, PhD, PsyD, NCSP, LMFT September 10, 2011 / 00:12

    Soccer balls were once made from leather…I recall reading an article re a soccer player who died after heading a water-logged leather soccer ball…

    Soccer-related excerpts from my 2004 Dissertation re …NFL Players’ Knowledge of Concussions and a Paper presented at the New York State Counseling Association’s 33rd
    Convention, Albany, NY (1999, October) entitled Soccer participation: Athletes at risk for sustaining a concussion. .

    1- Although soccer is perceived as a relatively safe sport (Janda et al., 1995; Jordan et al., 1996), a review of soccer-related literature cautions that its participants are at risk of experiencing serious injury (e.g., concussion) (Barnes et al., 1998; Baroff, 1998; Brady, D., 1999; Tysvaer, 1991). In 1988, the safety and related risk aspect of soccer participation was also raised by the American Academy of Pediatrics; it was their position that soccer should be viewed as a contact or collision sport. The Academy’s policy statement also reported that similar concussion rates existed for football and soccer (Dyment et al., 1988).

    2- An emerging body of literature and single-case reports clearly suggests that participation in soccer places a player at risk for sustaining a concussion. Factors causing concussions during soccer participation are:

    (a) a head of one player colliding with a head of another player;
    (b) a collision with another player’s elbow, knee or foot;
    (c) contact with the ground or indoor wall;
    (d) the collision with goal posts;
    (e) heading the ball struck by another player;
    (f) combinations of the above variables;
    (g) a blow to a non-head area of the body that creates a whiplash effect on the brain

    3- Concussion rates for college ice hockey and football, along with men’s and women’s soccer, were found to be comparable to previously documented concussion occurrences when the rate of concussions per thousand athletic exposures was analyzed. The following rates of concussions were found for each sport: ice hockey (.27); football (.25); men’s soccer (.25) and women’s soccer (.24) (Kelly& Rosenberg, 1998).

    4- Curtis (2000) portrayed the personal soccer related concussion experiences of a 16-year-old, high school athlete, Gillian Sawtell.

    The adolescent, a projected future star for her high school team, sustained
    2 concussions within 15 months period from 1999 to 2000. After experiencing the
    second concussion, Gillian was not medically able to return to soccer participation.
    Headaches plagued her in the classroom and at home, sometimes producing tears
    and grimaces but always leaving her in excruciating discomfort. “I get a dull,
    constant pain every day,” she said. It’s sitting in my head, and that will start to
    throb behind my eyes,” Gillian was informed by attending medical staff that she
    sustained a concussion, and would probably suffer from migraine headaches for the
    remainder of her life.


    A more recent soccer-related concussion story: Taylor Tweelman

    I suggest you read the online article entitled Concussions take toll in soccer too re professional soccer player Taylor Tweelman’s multiple concussions, and the eventual devasting and career ending effects of these concussions….

    Read more re Taylor Tweelman:

  2. brokenbrilliant September 10, 2011 / 09:11

    I’ve always wondered why soccer/football doesn’t get more attention in the concussion world. After all, it is a game where you pro-actively use your head to hit the ball, which may be traveling at a fairly high speed.

  3. Don Brady, PhD, PsyD, NCSP, LMFT September 10, 2011 / 12:53

    Hi brokenbrilliant:

    As you probably know, soccer is the most played sport in the world…thus some or many persons probably do not wish to hear any significant negative effects of the sport.

    Furthemore, I think our society has idealized the benefits of sport participation and either forgotten, discounted, minimized or denied the possible significant and multiple adverse effects of sport injury.

    Have heard of soccer balls to travel at 60 mph-70 mph + depending upon source.

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