Are Subconcussive Impacts Harmless in Youth Soccer Players?

Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise -


Lopez-Roman, L. R. and Diaz-Rodriguez, Y. I..



In United States at least 3.5 million children play soccer yearly. Head Impact (concussive and subconcussive) in youth players have a growing concern throughout their short or long-term career. A subconcussive impact may induce a traumatic alteration of function of the cerebrum without associated imaging abnormalities or loss of consciousness. Accelerometers can measure the magnitude and quantity of the subconcussive impacts in the field. The SIM-GTM accelerometer is a small portable device that measures change in velocity during an impact and provides estimates of magnitude (G) and angles. The ImPACT Pediatric® is a neurocognitive test that provide information of cognitive changes. PURPOSE: To evaluate if a subconcussive impact could lead to negative cognitive functions in youth soccer players.

METHODS: A group of 30 youth soccer athletes (15 males, 15 females) between 9 to 11 years old wear a head accelerometer in a specialize headband. Each participant was encouraged to perform normally in the game. Descriptive statistics was used to assess subconcussive impacts. T-test was used for the neurocognitive pre and post-test to assess differences in sequential memory, word memory, visual memory and rapid processing.

RESULTS: Mean age of female and male athletes (9.9 ± 0.6 years) was not different (P > 0.05). A total of 42 impacts were receive by both genders in three games. Range of acceleration was from 16g to 60g (Ave= 23.8 ± 9.1g). T-Test showed differences in sequential memory for female (p = 0.02) and rapid processing for males (p = 0.01). There were no differences between pre and post test in word memory for females and males (p = 0.97, p = 0.11; respectively) and visual memory (p = 0.30, p = 0.34; respectively).

CONCLUSION: These results suggest that females that play soccer and receive a subconcussive impact can reflect changes in their education and social activities at short term in their word recognition, oral reading and reading comprehension (sequential memory) and males in their auditory processing and language skills (rapid processing). Parents, coaches, trainers, exercise physiologist, and speech-language pathologists (SLP) should receive education to take precautions after a game with children that received at least one sub concussive impact and do not perceived any notable changes.

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