Women, kids playing soccer rival gridiron players in concussions

Tue Mar 22, 2016 2:00pm EDT
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By Larry Fine

NEW YORK (Reuters) - The National Football League has become the primary focus of concussion discussion in sports, but a former Major League Soccer MVP says it is high time to shine a light on the women and children on fields of play.

"The NFL has been the 'target' but let's be honest, when you look at the statistics of women's and girls' sports, soccer is a huge part of it," Taylor Twellman told Reuters in a recent interview.

"Everyone wants to address it regarding the NFL, but there are millions of kids playing sports that no one is talking about that we should be talking about a little bit more."

Twellman, a TV soccer analyst for ESPN and founder of the ThinkTaylor Foundation dedicated to educating young athletes on concussions, quit in his playing prime after an on-field blow to the head in 2008 that plagued him over the next seven years.

Dr. Dennis Cardone, co-director of New York University (NYU) Langone's Concussion Center and chief medical officer for the New York City Public Schools Athletic League, said women's sports produce a large share of concussions.

"Women's soccer is right up there with football, with wrestling. Women’s basketball, hockey and lacrosse are all serious risks for concussion," Cardone, who is also team physician for USA Wrestling and USA Fencing, told Reuters.

Earlier this month, retired U.S. national team soccer player Brandi Chastain, who scored the winning goal at the 1999 Women's World Cup, announced she would donate her brain posthumously to researchers studying the impact of concussions.

Over a third of 2,322 concussion patients at NYU's center the last three years were sports related. Forty-seven percent of the cases were pediatric (under 18) and women's sports accounted for 39 percent of adult sports injuries treated.   Continued...

File picture of Taylor Twellman of the U.S. celebrating after his third goal during their soccer match against Norway in Carson, California January 29, 2006. REUTERS/Lucas Jackson