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Heads Up!

07/11/2014 -

All of the United States and the world have been caught up with the excitement and fervor over soccer's world cup in Brazil. From a sports vision perspective, it's a great opportunity for us to highlight a few important principles regarding soccer and sports vision.

First, head injuries from collisions and/or chronic "heading" off the ball results in traumatic brain injury. We unfortunately see many of the players knocked down only to return a few minutes later.  FIFA, the world oversight body of international soccer, is going to have to address this issue in a more up-to-date and player-sensitive manner. When I was growing up, we were told to "shake it off" whenever an injury or a "ding" occurred. We now know that those dings are actually traumatic brain injuries and the danger exists not only with the first injury, but especially the subsequent second injury when the brain is still vulnerable from the first concussion. Here's a list, in order, of the most common sports that can result in traumatic brain injury:

1.    College Football
2.    College Ice Hockey
3.    Girls College Soccer
4.    High School Football
5.    Boys College Soccer
6.    Girls High School Soccer
7.    Girls College Hoops
8.    Girls High School Hoops
9.    Boys High School Soccer
10.    Boys College Basketball

It's important to have student athletes tested pre-season with pre-concussion baselines and to have coaches and athletic departments aware of the current recommendations for managing concussions on the field. Protocols should be in place for appropriate follow-up with medical personnel who specialize in post-concussion treatment. Rehabilitation (not in the first two weeks when the brain needs rest) is an important adjunct of longer term post-concussion treatment to help the athlete regain pre-concussion abilities. I hope that our local parents, athletic directors, and coaches are reading or listening to this blog. I wish that FIFA could also.