This blog summarizes the research we have about the role of mouth guards in sports and in concussion prevention.
Soccer is the leading cause of sport related concussion in girls, and one of the top sports causing concussion in boys. Most of the time concussions in soccer occur from collisions (head to head or head to body part), falls where the head hits the ground, or an unexpected head to ball hit (as opposed to occurring from heading the ball). Therefore, many companies are looking to invent a product to prevent soccer players from sustaining a concussion. Soccer headbands have become more popular in an attempt to protect players from head injury.
The literature has not shown overwhelming evidence that soccer headbands can prevent risk of concussion. Until there is more research done, there are not strong recommendations for or against soccer headgear. One concern with all athletes using a concussion headband is a false sense of security in that athletes wearing them may think they are invincible and hit their heads harder, causing worse injury. As always please contact your medical provider to discuss if a soccer headband is right for your athlete.
One way to help prevent concussions in soccer is decreasing the body contact (especially the use of elbows and shoulders) when other players are heading the ball, since most injuries occur from player contact as opposed to ball contact. Some leagues (especially for younger children) do not allow heading at all or limit it, to help decrease impacts to the head. We love soccer and think it is a wonderful sport for children and teens; we hope this provides some guidance to keep those heads safe while playing soccer.
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