Soccer players who repeatedly head balls may be at higher risk of impaired cognitive brain functioning than previously thought. While unintentional head impact due to collisions was the only culprit being associated with negative effects on players’ cognitive abilities, a recent study finds that heading soccer balls should also be considered as a risk to brain health, reports Science Daily. The study conducted by researches at Albert Einstein College of Medicine on 308 adult soccer players, ages 18-55, showed that players who frequently headed the ball did not do well when tested for attention, psychomotor speed and memory. Apparently, while repetitive soccer ball headings do not seem to cause immediate injury, they may have a cumulative effect over time.
While a recent study at Albert Einstein College of Medicine finds that heading soccer balls repeatedly may pose similar health risks as collisions to cognitive brain function, there is not yet enough research to suggest a specific, definitive danger point, cautions Greg Kruppa in Detroit News. Therefore, he cautions, soccer players, parents and coaches should not start worrying about soccer ball heading. The study’s lead author, Dr. Michael Lipton, says that there is not enough information yet to conclude just how much heading may cause brain impairment and that more research is required to pinpoint an exact danger point before changing the way soccer is played. In the meantime, he suggests that efforts to reduce long-term injuries should not just focus on studying collisions but also headings.