Our friend Dr. Daniel Amen at Amen Clinics has long been an advocate against any sports involving head contact, knowing full well the negative consequences that can result from viewing thousands of brain images and scans.Ai?? While we may initially think of the greater contact sports like football being the major culprit, a recent study reveals that any contact, such as headers in soccer, can have debilitating results.

Researchers used an advanced MRI-based imaging technique to scan the brains of 38 amateur soccer players, then compared the images to the number of times they headed the ball during the past year.Ai?? “Players who frequently headed the ball showed brain injuries similar to those seen in patients with concussions, with researchers from New York’s Albert Einstein College of Medicine and Montefiore Medical Center reporting ‘significant injury’ in those players who exceeded 1,000 to 1,500 headers per year.”

Says lead author Michael Lipton,“While heading a ball 1,000 or 1,500 times a year may seem high to those who don’t participate in the sport, it only amounts to a few times a day for a regular player. Heading a soccer ball is not an impact of a magnitude that will lacerate nerve fibers in the brain, but repetitive heading may set off a cascade of responses that can lead to degeneration of brain cells.”

Another related study found that players who headed a ball most frequently did worse on tests of verbal memory and psychomotor speed, which is a measure of hand-eye coordination.

“These two studies present compelling evidence that brain injury and cognitive impairment can result from heading a soccer ball with high frequency,” Lipton said.

While Jim Cosgrove, executive director of US Youth Soccer, has his doubts regarding the studies, he does confess that players under the age of 10 should try to refrain from heading for developmental reasons.Ai?? Dr. Amen couldn’t agree more. “The brain is not fully developed until about age 25.Ai?? Brain injuries and trauma during the critical development phase can cause lasting harm.Ai?? Protect your childai??i??s brain and steer them to other sports that have a low risk for brain injury, like table tennis.ai???

A telling truth can even be found on the American Youth Soccer Organization’s web site, or better known asAi?? AYSO, when they recommend that techniques for heading can first be learned through the use of rag, nerf, and inflatable balls, thus avoiding unnecessary, repetitive heading of a regulation soccer ball.

The purpose of this information isn’t to scare parents, but to enlighten them to be extra careful when little Johnny or Suzie want to over-engage in such activity.Ai?? Fortunately, heading in soccer is not akin to dribbling in basketball, and can be avoided altogether while still enjoying the game.

Written by: Staff
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