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When are the risks of head injuries highest for young footballers?

By Robert Preidt
Health Day reporter

MONDAY July 26, 2021 (HealthDay News) – Young soccer players have more head impacts during training, but experience more severe head impacts during games, according to a small preliminary study.

The findings could help find ways to improve the safety of head hits in youth football, the researchers say.

“Headers are a fundamental part of football. Therefore, it is important to understand the differences in frequency and amplitude of headers between practices and game settings,” said the author of the study, Jillian Urban, of Wake Forest School of Medicine in Winston-Salem, North Carolina.

“Practices are more likely to change than games. Therefore, understanding how we can restructure practice to reduce exposure to head impacts while teaching the foundational skills needed to play the sport safely is essential for improving performance. head impact safety in sports, ”Urban explained in an American Academy of Neurology press release.

In the study, his team followed eight soccer players, ages 14 and 15, for two seasons. Each player wore a bespoke mouthpiece sensor during all practices and games, and the researchers used a time-synchronized camera to record all field activity and locate head impacts.

The study authors tracked impacts per player per hour (impact rate) and the length of time that soccer players performed specific types of activities during practices and games. Depending on the activity, head impact rates ranged from 0.5 per player hour to 13.7 per player hour.

Technical drills such as heading the ball, practicing ball control, and dribbling were associated with an average impact rate of 13.7 head hits per player hour. Team interaction activities such as short-sided games in practice were associated with an average rate of 0.5 head hits per player per hour, while there was 1.3 head hits. per player hour during matches.

The researchers also looked at the average rotational motion of the head, measured in radians per second squared (rad / s2). Higher numbers meant more severe head impacts. Technical training was associated with an average magnitude of 550 rad / s2, while team interaction was associated with an average of 910 rad / s2 and games were associated with an average of 1490 rad / s2.

The results will be presented at the American Academy of Neurology Sports Concussion Conference on July 30 and 31. Such research is considered preliminary until it is published in a peer-reviewed journal.

“If the goal is to reduce the number of headshots that a young footballer can sustain on the pitch, our results suggest that the best way may be to target technical training drills and their distribution over the course of the match. ‘a season,’ Urban said. “However, if the goal is to reduce the likelihood that players will experience larger head hits, then the best bet may be to look at the factors associated with large-scale head hits that can occur. occur during scrums and matches. “

More information

The American Academy of Pediatrics has more information on soccer injuries and safety.

SOURCE: American Academy of Neurology, press release, July 23, 2021


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