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Heading in Soccer: Dangerous Play?

Spiotta, Alejandro M. MD*,‡; Bartsch, Adam J. PhD§,¶; Benzel, Edward C. MD

doi: 10.1227/NEU.0b013e31823021b2
Review
CNS University of Neurosurgery
Press Release

Soccer is the world's most popular sport and unique in that players use their unprotected heads to intentionally deflect, stop, or redirect the ball for both offensive and defensive strategies. Headed balls travel at high velocity pre- and postimpact. Players, coaches, parents, and physicians are justifiably concerned with soccer heading injury risk. Furthermore, risk of long-term neurocognitive and motor deficits caused by repetitively heading a soccer ball remains unknown. We review the theoretical concerns, the results of biomechanical laboratory experiments, and the available clinical data regarding the effects of chronic, subconcussive head injury during heading in soccer.

*Department of Neurological Surgery

Cerebrovascular Center

§Cleveland Clinic for Spine Health

Cleveland Traumatic Neuromechanics Corsortium, Cleveland, Ohio

Correspondence: Edward C. Benzel, MD, Department of Neurological Surgery, Neurological Institute, Cleveland Clinic, 9500 Euclid Avenue, S40, Cleveland, OH 44195. E-mail: benzele@ccf.org

Received January 19, 2011

Accepted May 17, 2011

Copyright © by the Congress of Neurological Surgeons