Concern for Concussions: Seniors explore head injuries in athletics

Holly Bartholomew

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It is no secret that there is great concern in this country for the mental health and brain functions of football players, with the recent studies released on concussions, more conspicuous, however, are the dangers of playing soccer.

According to senior Nick Calkins, there has been inquiry into the neurological and psychological effects of playing soccer in professional and former players, but the soccer community lacks sufficient information on what is going on inside the heads of its youngest players.

Calkins and fellow senior, Matt Hopp, wanted their senior project to fit this need, so the two put an experiment together for the local soccer club, F.C. West.

“The club wanted some information on this to improve player safety,” Calkins said.

Calkins and Hopp used headbands fitted with a tool to measure the linear and rotational accelerations of the brain in players from four F.C. West teams.

They attended ten practices for each of the teams, boys and girls, ages 12 and under and 14 and under. While the players practiced and the headbands collected brain accelerations, Calkins and Hopp observed and took note of the players’ activity.

Across the board, the teams produced similar results, with the average force of impact around 30 G-force. To the surprise of Calkins and Hopp, the U12 girls produced a greater average head acceleration than the U14 girls.

Calkins and Hopp found this surprising because, in their scrimmages and drills, the older girls had seemed much more active.

To learn more about this study, find Calkins and Hopp presenting on Senior Project Day, April 27.

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