It’s a wonderful thing to watch our kids play sports at an early age. Often times kids develop a sense of teamwork, discipline, leadership and responsibility through organized game play. There are times when those sports become the long-lasting passion of kids and in rare cases they turn into careers. Sports like baseball, football, track and soccer are early favorites for kids. As with everything, sports do carry a slight to great risk for short term and long term injury. When it comes time to choose the right sport we sometimes like to go with what we feel is a safe bet, soccer.
While soccer is a fun sport it too has its long-term risks, MRI scans show that the there is a link between repeat soccer heading and brain injury. This is not the kind of study that suggests you should keep your 5 year old nestled in the comfort of a safety gate but rather pay attention to the level of play and safety involved. For a child to head the ball once or twice is not harmful, in fact, studies show it’s after a threshold of 1800 hits in more competitive settings where the ball travels at well over 50 miles per hour.
Lower thresholds still cause abnormalities in white matter but they are not as serious. The average playing time for subjects was well 22 years. While the effects can be felt in all areas of the brain it’s something that can be avoided. Less heading of the ball is one way to ensure fewer problems. The studies that were conducted revealed that people in high thresholds were suffering from poorer memory.
One thing to take into account is that studies are conducted on a sample of the population. There are many variables to every case and those variables create different results. For some players, the threshold before experiencing problems may be higher and for others, it may be lower. It’s a good idea to tell kids early to be smart and play safe.
If you have any questions about MRI procedures or want to know more about imaging in general, please contact us at any time, we are here to help.
Robert Nicholas Serros Jr.
President & CEO