uwpublichealthMost of the media focus on sports concussions has been on football, but a study by the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health will focus on the use of protective headgear to reduce concussions among soccer players at the high school level.

Funded by a $300,000 grant from the National Operating Committee on Standards for Athletic Equipment the study will be the first to provide rigorous, scientific evidence to guide clinical recommendations about the use of protective headgear to reduce concussions in teen age soccer players.

The researchers will enroll 3,000 high-school soccer players from 88 Wisconsin high schools. Half of the schools will be assigned to an intervention group, and those players will wear protective headgear for all practice and competitions. Schools in a control group will be allowed to practice and compete without the protective gear.

Dr. Alison Brooks, assistant professor in the UW Department of Orthopedics and Rehabilitation, Division of Sports Medicine, says the risk of concussion in contact sports other than football appears to be under appreciated.

“The rate of concussion in girls’ high school soccer is the fourth highest, behind football, boys’ hockey and lacrosse,” Brooks said. High-school girls soccer players get concussions at almost twice the rate as their male counterparts, for reasons that are not clearly understood.

Researchers will sign up schools this spring and the study itself will start in August.

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