Head Trauma Update: Halt the Headers?

Girl's header practice, on YouTube video.

What are we to do with children's header practices like the above? Ban them? But what about winning the game? Ban heading the ball? Maybe.

Here.

Abstract

Does frequent head-to-ball contact cause cognitive dysfunctions and brain injury to soccer players? An iPad-based experiment was designed to examine the impact of ball-heading among high school female soccer players. We examined both direct, stimulus-driven, or reflexive point responses (Pro-Point) as well as indirect, goal-driven, or voluntary point responses (Anti-Point), thought to require cognitive functions in the frontal lobe. The results show that soccer players were significantly slower than controls in the Anti-Point task but displayed no difference in Pro-Point latencies, indicating a disruption specific to voluntary responses. These findings suggest that even subconcussive blows in soccer can result in cognitive function changes that are consistent with mild traumatic brain injury of the frontal lobes. There is great clinical and practical potential of a tablet-based application for quick detection and monitoring of cognitive dysfunction.

Citation: Zhang MR, Red SD, Lin AH, Patel SS, Sereno AB (2013) Evidence of Cognitive Dysfunction after Soccer Playing with Ball Heading Using a Novel Tablet-Based Approach. PLoS ONE 8(2): e57364. doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0057364

Editor: Corrado Sinigaglia, University of Milan, Italy

Received: August 21, 2012; Accepted: January 24, 2013; Published: February 27, 2013

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