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Can heading a soccer ball actually be bad for you?

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From breaking legs to pulling muscles, soccer players have been through it all but, can heading a ball really cause any type of brain damage? The answer is yes,  there have been many studies that have proven that heading a soccer ball can cause brain damage.

A study done by neuroradiologist Michael Lipton of the Albert Einstein College of Medicine of Yeshiva University, has proved that heading a ball continuously may affect brain structure and cognition. In the study they imaged the brains of 37 amateur soccer players, and discovered that players that headed the ball more frequently had microstructural changes in the white matter of their brain, which was similar to those in patients with traumatic brain injury. These players also did poorly on cognitive tests compared to players who headed the ball less.

“There is still a lot more work needed to determine the significance of the brain changes, but I hope to call attention to the potential risk because soccer is the most popular sport in the world,” said Lipton.

Another study done by Robert Cantu, professor of neurosurgery at the Boston University School of Medicine and co-founder of the Sports Legacy Institute’s study was between a swimmer and a soccer player. In this study they compared their brains and discovered that the swimmers brain looked normal while the soccer player’s’ brain had abnormalities in the white matter in their brain.

Some effects of these brain abnormalities were excessive shaking of the brain, excessive subconcussive and concussive trauma, which can leave to cognitive symptoms including memory problems as well as behavior and mood problems such as anxiety and depression. Other symptoms include trouble with sleep, light-headedness and headaches.

“I definitely think that heading a soccer ball can cause some type of brain damage. As a soccer player I know that heading a ball can really hurt sometimes. I have never had any brain damage that I know of but I do think it is possible,” said Woodhaven High School varsity soccer player Samantha Clinton.


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The student news site of Woodhaven High School
Can heading a soccer ball actually be bad for you?