Head Acceleration During Girls Youth Soccer Using Real Time Data

Title:  Head Acceleration During Girls Youth Soccer Using Real Time Data   Emily Messerschmidt, Katlyn Van Patten, Ryan Lee, Srikant Vallabhajosula Purpose/Hypothesis: While the acute effects of concussion have been the focus of research in the past, there is a new emphasis toward following the cumulative effects of sub-concussive head accelerations in athletics. This is especially important in youth athletes because the developing brain is more vulnerable to injury from head trauma in sports like soccer due to techniques such as heading, that can result in numerous head impacts throughout play. There is a current lack of evidence on the magnitude and frequency of head accelerations that occur during real-time youth sports, including soccer, and whether these accelerations have a detrimental cumulative effect. The purpose of the current study was to measure the head acceleration that youth athletes experience during real-time soccer games.   Number of Subjects: 31 under-15 girls club soccer participants. 11 players monitored each game.   Materials/Methods: 3 season games were observed. Triax Smart Impact Monitor headband accelerometers were worn during gameplay to collect real-time head impact data. Forces >10g were recorded. Games were video recorded for further analysis. Head impacts were categorized by type of impact: purposeful header (PH), player to player (PP), player to ground (PG), and ball to head (BH). Data was analyzed using descriptive statistics.   Results: A total of 171 impacts were observed (PH=20, PP=113, PG=36, BH=2). Only one impact recorded was above the concussion threshold of 70g. The majority (77%) of impacts observed were <10g. Of the accelerations recorded, PH resulted in the largest average acceleration (36.8±14.9g) followed by PG (20.5±4.2g), and PP (19.5±4.6g). The maximum accelerations for PH, PG and PP were 73g, 26g and 30g respectively. No BH accelerations were recorded >10g.   Conclusions: While PH yielded the highest average acceleration, it was one of the least frequently occurring impacts. PP impacts were most common however the majority produced little to no head acceleration. While there was variability of head acceleration that occurred within each type of impact, none produced consistently dangerous (≥70g) accelerations. Clinical Relevance: This study provides preliminary evidence of the impacts sustained during girls youth soccer games for athletic trainers or sports physical therapists who are monitoring athletes for concussions. The findings reveal that the use of headband accelerometers to measure real-time data can be a useful tool to monitor multiple players on the field. There remains a need for further research into the effect of cumulative sub-concussive impacts during soccer in youth athletes with larger sample size. Further studies should investigate the impacts players sustain over multiple seasons to observe if those who experience multiple sub-concussive impacts report concussion-like symptoms or show concussion-like signs. Additionally, this study adds evidence to the existing literature that the use of video analysis to confirm the occurrence of impacts and to correctly categorize them is highly beneficial to ensure reliability in future studies.
Listed In: Biomechanics, Physical Therapy, Sports Science