Evaluation of Heading in Youth Soccer.

Principle Investigator: Cynthia Bir, PhD

Institution:Wayne State University, Detroit, MI

Title: Evaluation of Heading in Youth Soccer

Abstract: With over 240 million registered participants, soccer is one of the most popular team sports in the world .  A dramatic increase in the United States has occurred over the past several years at the youth level.  Viewed as “safe” in comparison to other sports, soccer is not without injuries and is considered a contact/collision sport.  Injuries to the head and neck are common in soccer and can result from unintentional and intentional impacts. Unintentional impacts involve player-to-player contact, player-to-ground and player-to-goalpost and can result in severe head injuries. Intentional impacts are those associated with the player “heading” the ball.  These repetitive blows to the head are of special concern due to the neurological deficits observed in boxing .  There exists a need to biomechanically evaluate the cumulative effects of soccer heading in the youth population.  Such knowledge is necessary to properly develop guidelines for heading, training techniques, and the evaluation of protective headgear.  Although several studies have been conducted to attempt to determine the head accelerations seen in soccer , few studies have focused on the youth population.  This population is of special significance since improper heading techniques could increase the potential for injury.  The objective of this proposal is to quantify the frequency and characteristics of exposures to repetitive sub-concussive impacts to the head in youth soccer.  This study will also assist in determining the feasibility of collecting on-field acceleration data during soccer heading.  The following specific aims will be pursued:  Specific Aim 1To determine the incidence of headers in the youth population based on age group and player position through the use of field data.  Currently, there is a lack of on-field data to quantify the incidence of heading in soccer as it relates to player position and age group.  Most studies have employed laboratory based evaluations, without regard to frequency of impacts.  Specific Aim 2: To conduct an evaluation of an acceleration-based system for on-field use in order to collect real-world acceleration data in the youth soccer population.  The need exists for real-world, on-field acceleration based data to quantify the level of impacts seen in youth soccer.  Currently, only re-enactments have been conducted in the laboratory setting.  Although this provides the ability to control the impact, it may not produce realistic impact conditions.