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Risk of concussions in girls soccer

soccer ball.jpg
Girls are at an increased risk for having concussions, especially in soccer. (MGN)

Like millions of soccer moms across the country Rachael Cipoletti is always prepared, whether it's with supplies for the team or encouragement for her daughter.

But what she wasn't ready for was seeing the results of a 10 year study that found when it comes to concussions in all scholastic sports, girls’ soccer poses the greatest risk.

"It looks like it's supported by a lot of medical evidence that's coming out, so anything that I'm gonna let my kids do that may increase their chance of any injury, let alone a head injury, is alarming,” Rachael Cipoletti said.

Players can hurt their heads in a lot of different ways on a soccer field, so now engineers and scientists are wrapping *their* heads around the issue

Inside a pioneering sports science lab at Virginia Tech, a group led by Dr. Steve Rowson is investigating concussions and the most effective ways to prevent them

They just released the first ever ratings for soccer headgear and say risk in the girls’ sport could be reduced by as much as 70% with the use of padded headbands.

"Even though on any given play you might be more likely to get hurt playing football, you play soccer more, and that's more exposure and more possibility of getting hurt,” Rowson said.

Ali Krieger plays professionally for Orlando, and is one of the few elite women's players who has worn it. But the fact is, across all levels, the use of protective headgear is almost non-existent.

Olympic and World Cup champion Briana Scurry knows all too well about concussions. A vicious one in 2010 ended her professional career, and changed her life.

"I had high levels of anxiety all of a sudden, and complete inability to focus. I actually saw a picture of myself when I was playing in that time and I'm like- I know that's me... but I don't know how, and I don't know if I'm ever going to be that woman again. And it broke my heart. It broke my heart,” Briana said.

It's her belief that all girls, of all ages, should consider protecting their heads and their futures by wearing headbands.

"If it works and it dissipates the force, I don't see anything wrong with it,” Scurry said.

And the science says it works, so why don't more girls wear them? It could be because they see headbands mostly being worn by players who have already suffered a concussion.

"They see it as something has happened that's resulted in them wearing this right now. They're not seeing it as a preventative mechanism,” Cipoletti said. “They see it as- something has happened, that's why they're wearing this."

So it might just take a rules change to change the dinner table conversation about wearing padded headbands.

Rachael: "If it were required then yes, I would force them to, just like I force them to wear their shin guards."

And without the next generation of soccer stars embracing head protection as the new normal, the worry is that concussions may continue to plague one of the nation's most popular youth sports. For Spotlight on America, I'm Rick Lord.

Some rules changes have been implemented in recent years. The U.S. Soccer Federation banned "heading" for kids 10 and under, but there's no sign that protective headgear will be a mandated anytime soon.

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