Heading a soccer ball can lead to brain cell damage, a new study from UBC Okanagan has found. (Unsplash)

Heading soccer balls can cause damage to brain cells: UBC study

Roughly 42 per cent of children in the country play soccer, according to statistics from Heritage Canada

Tackling in football and hitting in hockey are two known concerns for concussions – but a new study suggests that less aggressive contact – such as between a soccer ball and a head – could have concerning impacts.

Repetitive impacts of a soccer ball on a player’s head could be causing damage to cells of the nervous system, a study by University of British Columbia Okanagan neuroscience professors has found.

“Soccer is unique in that playing the ball with the head is encouraged, yet players don’t wear protective headgear,” said Paul van Donkelaar, UBC Okanagan neuroscientist, in a news release.

“Although there are a growing number of studies evaluating the wisdom of this, ours is the first to measure blood biomarkers of cell injury.”

The study, released Tuesday, involved Van Donkelaar and his research team evaluating the impact of 40 headers by 11 participants, with a specific focus on the blood levels of two nerve cell enriched proteins, tau and light neurofilament. Meanwhile, participants were also asked to record any concussion symptoms.

That data was compared to an alternate set of measurements taken when participants didn’t head the soccer ball.

Researchers found that on the days when participants had headed a ball, neurofilament blood levels were higher and symptoms such as headaches, dizziness and confusion were reported. The same results were seen 22 days later.

Neurofilament has been noted by previous researchers for acting as a integral marker when detecting head injuries and acute concussions in athletes, doctoral graduate student Colin Wallace said.

Roughly 42 per cent of children in the country play soccer, according to statistics from Heritage Canada. As sports organizations look to increase safety, some U.S. soccer clubs have already moved to ban heading by players under the age of 10.

“We suggest that heading in soccer should not be overlooked as a potential way to inflict damage to nerve cells. Perhaps our findings are game changers. As in hockey and other contact sports, changes in conduct and equipment should be considered,” Wallace said.


@ashwadhwani
ashley.wadhwani@bpdigital.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Comments are closed

Just Posted

Free beach camps for kids

The Lake Windermere Ambassadors are offering free summer camps for kids at James Chabot Beach.

Fisher announces decision to run for MNBC regional director’s role

Debra Fisher plans to run for Region 4 director in the Métis Nation of B.C. election this fall

Traditional Indigenous languages evaluated for regional signage project

Economic Development Officer works toward inclusive signage project for the Columbia Valley

Sonshine Children’s Centre slates early-July reopening

Sonshine Children’s Centre plans to re-open for families in need on July 6.

Ktunaxa language nears extinction

UBC grad Martina Escutin has been raising awareness about the critically endangered Ktunaxa language

Lower Mainland teacher facing child pornography charges

Elazar Reshef, 52, has worked in the Delta School District

Man who rammed gate near Trudeau residence with truck faces multiple charges

The man, who police have not yet officially identified, will be charged with multiple offences

All community COVID-19 outbreaks declared over in B.C.

Abbotsford manufacturer cleared by Dr. Bonnie Henry

Kelowna RCMP commander calls for more nurses during wellness checks after complaint

Southeast District Commander wants to increase Police and Crisis Team program

‘Tarantula moth’ spotted in broad daylight on Vancouver Island

Polyphemus moths are one of the largest insects in B.C.

B.C. First Nations vow to keep fighting after Trans Mountain pipeline appeal denied

Squamish Nation, Tsleil-Waututh Nation and Coldwater Indian Band made the application

‘Queue jumpers’ not welcome in B.C. as COVID-19 U.S. cases rise: Horgan

Premier Horgan said he’s heard concerns that Americans have stopped at Vancouver hotels instead of heading to their destination

US officer resigns after photos, connected to death of black man in 2019, surface

Elijah McClain died, last summer, after police placed him in a chokehold

Most Read