MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
John W. O’Kane M.D.
Associate Professor Family Medicine and Orthopaedics and Sports Medicine
Medical Coordinator, U.W. Intercollegiate Athletics
University of Washington Sports Medicine Clinic, Seattle
MedicalResearch.com: What are the main findings of the study?
Dr. O’Kane: In 11 to 14 year old female elite soccer players the concussion incidence was 13% with a rate of 1.2 per 1000 athletic exposures. Symptoms lasted a median of 4 days and players with light or noise sensitivity, emotional lability, memory loss, nausea, and concentration problems took significantly longer to recover. Heading the ball accounted for 30.5% of concussions and the vast majority of concussions (86%) occurred in games. The majority of players (58.6%) reported playing with symptoms and less than half (44.1%) sought medical attention for their symptoms. Those seeking medical attention were symptomatic longer and were less likely to play with symptoms.
MedicalResearch.com: Were any of the findings unexpected?
Dr. O’Kane: The high number of participants playing despite symptoms and the low number seeking medical attention was surprising.
MedicalResearch.com: What should clinicians and patients take away from your report?
Dr. O’Kane: The players, parents, and coaches on this age group need further education regarding the symptoms of concussion and the potential serious sequelae of this injury. While every player with symptoms may not have a concussion, the risks of playing with a concussion are sufficiently serious that any symptomatic player should be removed until they are evaluated and cleared by a health professional.
MedicalResearch.com: What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this study?
Dr. O’Kane: Youth soccer programs should institute concussion awareness programs. The effectiveness of the programs should be assessed through further data collection and the programs modified as needed. Further research should evaluate whether or not teaching proper heading technique and/or modifying rules to limit heading for younger players in game situations can reduce risk of concussion. Further studies should also compare short and long term outcomes for those who seek medical care and return to play according to recommended guidelines vs. those who do not seek medical care and/or return to play prematurely.