As more and more attention floods toward the gravity of concussions – mild traumatic brain injuries – soccer fans and officials are taking a closer look at the danger of head injuries in the game. Although concussions number fewer in Major League Soccer (MLS) than in football, they still occur and have had serious long-term results for a few players, an article in U.S. Soccer Player reported.
Unlike recent changes made in the NFL, which requires a player be monitored and cleared by an independent neurologist before returning to play after a head injury, MLS does not have system-wide head injury protocols. US Soccer Players reported that referees are supposed to give instant red cards for players who hit another player’s head on purpose. Often, the game goes on even when a player is down in the field, unless a head or neck injury is evident, the article continued.
Although there are no specific parameters for handling concussions in the MLS, some team trainers have taken matters into their own hands. Rick Guter, the head trainer for the Red Bulls, said that ‘his personal rule is that a player must be symptom-free for a week before he plays again,’ the article read.
A handful of MLS players have abandoned the sport over long-term concussion symptoms including Taylor Twellman, Chad Marshall, Alecko Eskandarian,and Ross Paule have all suffered from concussions incurred while playing soccer. Paul retired at 29 from the Columbus Crew and, five years later, he still suffers from concussion symptoms, the article added. Marshall had four concussions in a single year. All of the players may have benefited from some kind of standard protocols that would have kept them out of the game after their first concussion.
With all the research and attention given to concussions and the importance of fully recovering before returning to full activity, it seems only a matter of time before MLS incorporates league-wide rules for concussion safety. Most major brain damage from concussions occurs when a second or third head injury compounds the first before the brain has fully healed.
Bondy, Stefan. (March 22, 2010) ‘Soccer’s Concussion Problem.’ Retrieved on March 23, 2010 from the U.S. Soccer Players Web site:http://www.ussoccerplayers.com/ussoccerplayers/2010/03/soccers-concussio…
Radcliff, John. (March 23, 2010) ‘Mild TBI and Sports Related Injuries.’ Retrieved on March 23, 2010 from the Bleacher Report Web site: http://bleacherreport.com/articles/367620-mild-tbi-and-sports-related-in…
Wald, Jeff. (March 20, 2010) ‘The dangerous truth about concussions and how they affect athletes.’ Retrieved on March 23, 2010 from the Northfield News Web site:http://www.northfieldnews.com/news.php?viewStory=52099