Study: Soccer injuries on the rise, concussion rates increase 1,600 percent

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By Nina Criscuolo – INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — A study released overnight shares shocking statistics about injuries happening on the soccer field.

Between 1990 and 2014, researchers with the Center for Injury Research and Policy of the Research Institute at Nationwide Children's Hospital looked at data collected by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission on children ages 7 to 17.

While soccer is growing in popularity — naturally increasing the number of soccer-related injuries — these statistics show children are being treated more frequently than before and that the intensity of play is higher than it's ever been.

The numbers show soccer-related injuries treated in hospital emergency departments have increased 78 percent. While sprains, strains, and fractures are the most common injuries, what's really shocking is the number of concussions or other closed-head injuries have increased 16-fold.

Center for Injury Research and Policy medical assistant Tracy Mehan said the data can't precisely explain why concussion rates are increasing for soccer players. Still, athletes and parents need to be aware of the issue. Mehan said young players take longer to recover from concussions and playing too soon after a head injury puts them at risk for second impact syndrome and repeat concussions.

The study shows older children and teens ages 12 to 17 years old accounted for nearly three quarters of the injuries reported, and girls were more likely than boys to suffer a knee of ankle injury. The data also indicates most of the injuries happened when a player was hit by another player or the ball or when they fell.

Researchers provided these tips to keep athletes safe on the soccer field:

  • Take part in a pre-season conditioning program to strengthen core, neck, and leg muscles.
  • Warm up before play.
  • Wear recommended protective gear like shin guards and mouth guards.
  • Follow and enforce rules. Researchers say most injuries happen during illegal play or when coaches and refs are not enforcing the rules.
  • Limit heading for younger players.
  • Learn about concussions and encourage your children to report any hits to the head, even during practice.