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Head & Brain Conditions


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Head & Brain Conditions


A main component of Recognize to Recover is focused on head injuries, including concussions. U.S. Soccer has taken a lead in education, research and proposing rule changes to improve player safety for several years. 

As the science of evaluating and managing concussions has advanced, key findings emphasize the need for education of players, their families, coaches, medical staffs and the public at large on the signs and symptoms of concussion. There is also a critical need for early identification and proper management of a concussion.

The goal of the U.S. Soccer Concussion Management Program is to provide state of the art education, evaluation and management of concussions among national teams players. The program includes pre-injury baseline testing with comprehensive post-injury follow-up evaluations and return to play protocols.

At the core of the program is a network of sports neuropsychologists who will serve as referral sources for post-injury evaluations and provide team medical staff with important information about a player's post-injury neurocognitive status.

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Concussions


Concussions


Check out the video below to follow the journey of a young soccer player through a suspected concussion to understand the symptoms of concussions and the steps that should be taken before a player is allowed to return to the field. As the audience weaves between reality and what takes place in the player's mind, we see how both the physical and mental symptoms of concussions have very real effects.

A concussion can be difficult to recognize on the field. Most occur without a loss of consciousness or an obvious sign that something is wrong with a player’s brain function. They can occur at any time throughout games or practice, as a blow to the head or body from contact with the ground, the ball or another player. Working with leading physicians for more than a decade, U.S. Soccer created Recognize to Recover resources that will help coaches, players, parents and referees identify the signs and symptoms of concussion and immediately take action with the appropriate treatment. 

RECOGNIZE

Changes in brain functions:

  • Unaware of game (opposition colors, score of game, last play)
  • Confusion
  • Amnesia (does not recall events prior to the hit or after the hit)
  • Drastic changes in alertness
  • Does not know time, place or date
  • Slowed responses to questions or conversation
  • Decreased attention and concentration

Mental and emotional changes:

  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Anger
  • Irritability
  • Emotionally unstable

Physical changes:

  • Headache
  • Dizziness
  • Nausea
  • Unsteadiness/loss of balance
  • Feeling “dinged” or stunned or “dazed”
  • Seeing stars or flashing lights
  • Ringing in the ears
  • Double vision

Changes in sleep: 1

  • Too much sleep
    • School-age children (6–13): > 9–11 hours
    • Teenagers (14–17): > 8–10 hours
    • Younger adults (18–25): > 7–9 hours
  • Difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep

1. National Sleep Foundation. "National Sleep Foundation Recommends New Sleep Times." National Sleep Foundation. 2 February 2015, https://sleepfoundation.org/media-center/press-release/national-sleep-foundation-recommends-new-sleep-times

RECOVER

Remove, Evaluate and Rest are key steps to treating a concussion or other head injury in soccer. When a concussion is identified quickly, it prevents the injury from getting worse, and prevents the player from staying off the field for even longer.

Remove
An athlete who experiences a blow to the head or body should immediately be removed for play and should not return to play until he/she is evaluated. When in doubt, the athlete should sit out.

Evaluate
Have a health care professional evaluate the athlete immediately. Do not try to judge the severity of the injury yourself.

Rest
Never rush a return to play. A return to play should only occur after an athlete has been cleared by a medical professional. If you rush the return, a player is at significantly higher risk for more problems in the future.