How Soccer Head Butting Can Lead to Brain Damage

Social and territory dominance; it’s the essence of a natural predisposition to anger and aggression that so many males experience during the competitive soccer game,. Although the repercussions of head butting include discipline, rule-breaking, and a change in maneuvering tactics, a concussion from a powerful head butt is only the precursor to brain damage.

Head butting is not a natural function for most human skulls, and has evolved and developed as a technique used in the standard soccer game both for the ball, and sometimes other players. A recently recognized head butt captured the interest of billions of fans worldwide when Zinedine Zidane headbutted the chest of Italy’s Marco Materazzi. At its most instinctive level, head butting is an aggressive tactic also used by boxers, wrestlers, and basketball. Many national players have often been called off their game for breaking the rules using this opponent attack strategy.

Still, head butting is a vital resource for soccer players at the sidelines. The term most often used when simply bouncing the ball with one’s head is termed a ‘header’, and continuous headers can lead to brain damage, concussions, lacerations, and other skull-related problems.

Brain damage from sports received much-deserved research after reports of football players experiencing cognitive and physical problems. Football players who use helmets are still prone to various levels of damage depending on the intensity of the headbutt. In soccer, the risk is exceptionally high since helmets are not a part of the game. A study published in the scientific journal of the American Academy of Neurology, found that soccer players suffer the same number of concussions as American footballers.

Erik Master, a neuropsychologist at Erasmus University in the Netherlands reports that “when you head 1,000 balls in a season, {they found] a strong correlation with memory problems. Our opinion is that when you have accumulation of headers during one season, is that you are at risk for memory impairments.” (Radio National abc Health Report 24/6/2002). The same study also showed that almost 50% of soccer players incurred some form of a concussion during their soccer career, and concussions were prominent.

Frequent concussions can lead to ongoing brain damage, and may increase the risk for permanent brain damage over the long-tem. Our skulls were not designed to experience forms of excessive impact on a regular basis; blows to the head are always dangerous, no matter what the source.

Still, soccer will remain a game where headers are a part of training and performance on the field. Signs of concussion include dizziness, cognitive impairment, and disorientation; still, many players simply ‘push ahead’ and continue the game. It’s important to remember how sensitive our brain functions are, as even the slightest imbalance can lead to major physical problems and effects overall. Soccer players who are exposed to continuous pounding are putting themselves at a high risk for brain damage and concussion-related injury in later years.

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