Star Athlete’s Pledge Calls Attention to Brain Injuries in Women’s and Girls’ Soccer

At the Brod Law Firm, we are not only sports fans, we are fans of athletes themselves.  Athletes make an impressive commitment to their sport, a commitment that can come with great peril.  Far too many athletes off all ages, from the youngest tots dotting the fields on a sunny Saturday to the professionals playing in major arenas, face brain injury.  When brain injury occurs because league rules put players at unnecessary risk or because coaches and other officials ignored danger signs, we are here to support players as a Northern California sports injury law firm in San Francisco, Oakland, and Santa Rosa.  This week, we look at a subset of head injuries that is receiving much-needed attention thanks to one big star: head injuries in girls’ soccer and women’s soccer.

Chastain Pledges to Donate Brain to CTE Research

Remembered for her iconic celebration after scoring the winning goal in the 1999 Women’s World Cup, Brandi Chastain has inspired countless women and girls to explore the world of sports.  Last week, CNN announced that Chastain has pledged to donate her brain to Boston University’s ongoing research project into Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (“CTE”) upon her passing.  CTE is believed to result from repeated blows to the head which can cause the buildup of an abnormal protein in the brain.  It is a degenerative brain disease that can lead to symptoms similar to Alzheimer’s Disease including memory loss, mood swings, and rage.  According to USA Today, only 7 of the 307 brains pledged to the project looking at CTE in athletes and military personnel come from women, making Chastain’s promise particularly important.

In addition to her recent pledge, Chastain is a devoted soccer coach who told CNN she works hard to teach her players how to stay safe and avoid head injury.  She is also involved in a campaign to eliminate heading in soccer leagues for players under 14.

Brain Injuries in Youth Soccer Pose Particular Threat to Female Athletes

As we’ve reported previously, CTE can only be diagnosed after death.  Concussions, however, can be identified bysoccer conscientious and educated professionals, including doctors, coaches, and trainers.  Chastain told USA Today that she believes she suffered at least two concussions as a college soccer player, but played on and was never formally diagnosed.  Likewise, CNN’s recent article cites a 2013 study finding soccer players who frequently headed the ball developed brain injuries akin to those in people with concussions.

In a 2015 article, CNN reported that soccer is the second leading cause of concussions among female athletes (soccer ranks fifth for boys).  According to that report, almost one-third of all concussions in youth soccer are a result of heading.  In females, 52% of youth soccer-related concussions are due to physical contact between players (69% in boys), often elbows or shoulders hitting another player’s head.  For every 10,000 students involved in a soccer practice or match, 4.5 girls and 2.8 boys showed concussions.

Protecting and Fighting for Our Young Athletes

We believe that sports can provide an impressive range of benefits to young people from instilling a commitment to fitness to teaching teamwork skills.  While sports carry some inherent risk, it is up to as adults to do our best to ensure youth sports are a safe experience.  The Center for Disease Control has an extensive section of its website titled Heads Up to Brain Injury that provides information about preventing head injuries in youth sports.  If you love a young athlete, we urge you to take a look.

March is Brain Injury Awareness month so now is the perfect time to talk about youth sports and brain injury, including the risk of brain injury in girls’ soccer.  If your child suffered a head injury during soccer or another youth sport and you believe the sporting organization, league rules, or a negligent official (e.g., coach, referee, or trainer) is to blame, call our sports injury law firm in San Francisco, Oakland, or Santa Rosa.  Head injuries can have lifelong consequences and costs mount quickly.  Sports injury lawsuits not only serve to compensate players, they are a powerful tool that can lead to positive changes and keep our young athletes safe in the future.

See Related Blog Posts:

Northern California Football Injury Lawyer Looks at Growing Evidence of Football-Related Brain Injury

Concussions and Other Head Injuries in Youth Soccer

(Image by Jarrett Campbell)