Concussions in Female Soccer Players

Young female soccer players may get more concussions than their high school and college counterparts, and many of them continue to play while they have symptoms, according to a new study.

Concussions can result in memory loss and problems with concentration and reaction time. The effects are worse when an athlete suffers a second concussion before fully recovering from the first. U.S. high school soccer players get about 50,000 concussions each year, but no one's been keeping track of concussions among younger girls, researchers said.

They found 13 percent of those athletes suffered a concussion each season, and more than half kept playing after the injury. Many concussions happened while the players were heading the ball — possibly because they hadn't progressed far enough to be able to perform the maneuver safely.

During the past three years, the Texas Health Ben Hogan concussion centers (information below) have treated more than 2,000 sports-related concussion patients.

"It’s about 60 percent boys and 40 percent girls,” said Ken Locker, MA, ATC, Director of Sports Marketing for the Ben Hogan concussion centers. “We found that the girls take about 25 percent longer to recover as compared to boys with similar symptoms and age. While the verdict is still out as to why, research tells us that girls report different symptoms than what the boys report and girls tend to hide the severity of the symptoms more than boys.”

A person with a concussion may:
      • Use acetaminophen
      • Use ice pack on head and neck (Tylenol®) for headaches
      • Go to sleep as needed for comfort
      • Eat a light diet
      • Rest (no strenuous activity or sports)

There is no need to:
      • Wake up every hour
      • Test reflexes
      • Stay in bed

Do not:
      • Drink alcohol
      • Exercise or lift weights
      • Use computer/text/video games
      • Take ibuprofen, aspirin, naproxen or other non-steroidal anti inflammatory medications
      • Drive while symptomatic
      • Watch anything with a screen
      • Consume caffeine drinks

Lights out on electronics
The use of computers, TV, phone, video games and texting can delay the brain’s healing process. Restriction from using these items as well as avoidance of concerts and loud music may improve healing time. During the next few days, limit TV time and only non-violent programs.

Academic Accommodations
The school administrators (principals, counselors and teachers) should be contacted and informed that the student athlete has sustained a concussion. Request “academic accommodation” such as excuse from classes and homework for a few days. This should occur until the symptoms diminish. Please remind your child to check in with the school nurse or athletic trainer prior to going to class on the first day he or she returns to school. Your child should also follow up with the school’s nurse or athletic trainer and should be restricted from participating until the symptoms resolve and are cleared by a physician. Return to play should be gradual and increase in stress over a period of a few days. If signs or symptoms return with workouts, then restrict from exercise until the athlete is able to work out without symptoms returning.

Go to the hospital immediately if any of these signs are visible:
      • Worsening Headache
      • Seizures
      • Very Drowsy
      • Unsteady
      • Confused
      • Slurred Speech
      • Issues recognizing people
      • Bleeding or clear fluid coming from ears/nose
      • Vomiting
      • Unequal pupils

For more information about concussion care or to find a concussion center near you, visit

Source: JAMA Pediatrics, online January 20, 2014.