The term athletic concussion typically fosters an image of two burly men in pads slamming each other into the ground. The notion that the majority of head injuries happen in soccer is one not often considered. Sophomore goalkeeper Kristina Morris proved otherwise when she explained her struggles after suffering two concussions during the 2014 season.
By the end of her season, Morris had suffered from a total of three concussions, a torn meniscus and neck discomfort.
She said her head injuries alone caused her to miss four games, two weeks of play, two classes and put her behind academically.
“I had really bad headaches during class after the first concussion,” Morris said. “I struggled a lot to stay awake.”
It has been more than two weeks since her last concussion and Morris said the feelings of nausea have gone away but the off and on headaches continue.
Morris got her first concussion while she was diving to save a ball during practice and smacked her head on the goalpost.
After being out of gameplay, Morris got cleared to return to the field and suffered her second concussion while warming up a teammate and slamming into someone’s hip.
Morris said the team has had several girls suffer concussions this season, including sophomore defender Breezy Brookbank, who procured a black eye and head injury after jumping to receive a ball. Morris said several girls began wearing headgear because they had already suffered extensive head injuries.
“It makes sense that more concussions happen in soccer,” Morris said. “You’re trying to receive possession with your head and not your hands.”
Beyond the time missed in gameplay, Morris said the injuries significantly impacted her academics.
After her second concussion she said she couldn’t stay awake in class and had to skip two classes to recover.
Although she said her professors have been understanding and accommodating, she has still not recovered for the lost time.
“You just can’t miss class,” Morris said.
According to the American Journal of Sports Medicine, a study of 37 former professional soccer players found mild to severe deficits in attention, concentration, memory and judgement.
The report on the study said the authors speculated that these deficits could be indicative of permanent organic brain damage resulting from repeated traumas from heading the ball.
Morris said she was originally very surprised when she learned how many soccer head injuries happen on a regular basis.
After she suffered her first concussion, Morris said she didn’t have the same spark as she did before the injury.
Morris said she will most likely not be returning to the soccer team for the 2015 season but said her head injuries were not the reasons behind her decision.“I don’t think people understand how serious [head injuries] are,” Morris said. “They have a much bigger and longer impact than people think.”