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Soccer headers may cause traumatic brain injuries

Traumatic brain injuries have permanent detrimental effects on memory, attention and the processing of visual information. Attention parents: It has recently been discovered these injuries can be caused by playing soccer. A recent study found that repeated heading of soccer balls, the act of driving the ball off a player's head, can affect the brain the same way as suffering a serious concussion. This news has concerned parents on the alert.

Historically, there has not been scientific evidence to prove structural changes in the brain that affect memory and cognitive skills. However, diffusion tensor imaging, an innovative new M.R.I. technique, can now detect changes to the internal structure of the brain that have never before been measurable.

With use of this new technology, it has been found that players who headed a soccer ball over 1,000 times that year had lost a considerable amount of white matter (the communication wiring mechanism) in their brains. This loss of brain matter can have the same aftermath as a serious concussion, without ever causing an actual concussion or visible head injury.

A State University of California study of the relationship between heading and cognitive health in soccer players confirmed that frequent headers had impaired memory and cognitive abilities. The diffusion tensor imaging correlated these findings.

This is especially important for parents of children enrolled in soccer as the consensus grows that children younger than 12 years-old should not be heading the ball at all, and children of any age should not do so often.

If your child experiences headaches or dizziness after practice, this could be a sign of frequent heading drills and possible brain injury. Parents should be aware that coaches are increasingly being instructed to reduce the practice of heading and to use caution.

Those with traumatic brain injuries can now substantiate their claims with reliable scientific evidence. If a brain injury is caused by another's negligence, this new scientific breakthrough can help an experienced attorney in successfully compensating for your loss.

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