New worry for soccer moms

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, March 6, 2013

How ‘bout some Andy Bulldog soccer?

I’ve been very proud of the team as they head into their first full season of play. Monday night, the team, which is 5-0, scored its first area win against Houston Academy.

Last year’s season, the first of its kind in school history, was an abbreviated one – giving players a chance to see what the game and the area competition was like.

Each of the three Nelson girls have played soccer for years, so when it came time for tryouts, I was pleased when my middle school-aged daughter said she wanted to try out. I was also pretty confident that she wouldn’t make the high school. It wasn’t a slight on her abilities. More like it was it was because she was so slight, herself. Other players on the field outweighed her by more than 50 pounds and stood a foot taller.

Like most moms, I was really worried that she could get hurt.

Studies have shown that the number of girls suffering concussions playing soccer is only second to those sustained by boys playing football.

The front part of the brain, where you head the ball, controls short-term memory, working memory, impulse control and attention.

Girls playing soccer suffer about twice as many concussions as boys, but not much research has been done looking into the effects of repeatedly heading the ball, so called sub-concussive blows.

Let me preface this by saying, I’m not really afraid that Ora’s going to give herself a concussion for two reasons – one, she’d not only have to make it onto the field, but two, she’d also have to put herself in front of the ball.

What I find very interesting is that scientists know this because they’ve developed an app for it.

Rather than studying that in a lab with expensive equipment, University of Texas Health Science neuroscientists developed the app, which it yielded some pretty surprising results.

Subjects were required to touch a visual target on the iPad screen and, in a separate task, touch the screen in the opposite direction of the target.

Scientists tested 12 varsity soccer girls between 15 and 18 years old right after practice and compared their results to 12 girls in non-contact sports. Researchers found significant changes “consistent with mild traumatic brain injury.”

Will it make me tell my girl that she can’t play? Absolutely not, but it amazes me that science and technology has met sports in such a way.

I wonder what they will come up with next.