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Heading A Soccer Ball Can Cause Brain Damage

If you have ever seen the Will Smith starring movie (if you haven’t then it’s a must) then you know the effects of head trauma suffered through sports such as American football or even soccer (better known as football in countries other than America).

The temporary concussions suffered in such games have been reportedly linked with longtime neural disorders. We will focus on the recent scrutiny which football (the kind with which FIFA is associated) is facing. The studies suggest that headers taken by the player during those crucial moments like a last-minute cross are actually affecting the cognitive abilities of the player.

What Are The Evidence Supporting The Claim Of Brain Damage By Heading A Soccer Ball?

While the headers look glorious on cameras especially when the shot is converted to a goal but with recent studies, players need to be more careful before taking the incoming ball head-on (literally). These studies that we keep referencing to, were conducted in the US where the shots were categorized into two classes.

  • First is the “unintentional impacts” where the ball comes into contact with the player without him actually intending to tackle it with his head.
  • These impacts are the major causes of concussions in players.
  • Second is the “intentional impacts” where the player decides to take the shot knowingly with his head.
  • These shots aren’t benign either, they too take a toll on the head as well as the brain.
  • The studies which support this fact claim that the shots cause neurodegenerative problems like encephalopathy.

Also, read about: Yo-Yo Endurance Test In Cricket.

Let’s take a look at a couple of research and studies which support these claims.

  • Researchers took close observations of brain functions of a swimmer and a football player.
  • They noticed football players had developed brain abnormalities while an average swimmer, who plunges headfirst into the water, was fine.
  • In New York researchers recruited a few football players (or soccer players if you’re from the US) who were subjected to routine matches.
  • At the beginning and end of the two weeks of this research, these players had to take a neuro-psychological test to measure their cognitive abilities.
  • The players who had the most headers to their name had poorest test results.

What Are The Effects Of The Damage Caused By Headers?

Among several, the most concerning effects of shaking and shunting like concussive traumas to the brain include:

  • Short memory span
  • Behavioral and mood abnormalities
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Sleeping disorders

Related reads: How to deal with Sports Injuries.

Take Home – Football And Brain Damage

There isn’t enough evidence to substantially support the claim that heading a football can cause serious brain damage. It is still advisable for young aspirants to avoid heading a football early in their careers. The point of these studies is to make sure more and more people start playing the game safely.