Heading a soccer ball can lead to brain cell damage, a new study from UBC Okanagan has found. (Unsplash)

Heading soccer balls can cause damage to brain cells: UBC study

Roughly 42 per cent of children in the country play soccer, according to statistics from Heritage Canada

Tackling in football and hitting in hockey are two known concerns for concussions – but a new study suggests that less aggressive contact – such as between a soccer ball and a head – could have concerning impacts.

Repetitive impacts of a soccer ball on a player’s head could be causing damage to cells of the nervous system, a study by University of British Columbia Okanagan neuroscience professors has found.

“Soccer is unique in that playing the ball with the head is encouraged, yet players don’t wear protective headgear,” said Paul van Donkelaar, UBC Okanagan neuroscientist, in a news release.

“Although there are a growing number of studies evaluating the wisdom of this, ours is the first to measure blood biomarkers of cell injury.”

The study, released Tuesday, involved Van Donkelaar and his research team evaluating the impact of 40 headers by 11 participants, with a specific focus on the blood levels of two nerve cell enriched proteins, tau and light neurofilament. Meanwhile, participants were also asked to record any concussion symptoms.

That data was compared to an alternate set of measurements taken when participants didn’t head the soccer ball.

Researchers found that on the days when participants had headed a ball, neurofilament blood levels were higher and symptoms such as headaches, dizziness and confusion were reported. The same results were seen 22 days later.

Neurofilament has been noted by previous researchers for acting as a integral marker when detecting head injuries and acute concussions in athletes, doctoral graduate student Colin Wallace said.

Roughly 42 per cent of children in the country play soccer, according to statistics from Heritage Canada. As sports organizations look to increase safety, some U.S. soccer clubs have already moved to ban heading by players under the age of 10.

“We suggest that heading in soccer should not be overlooked as a potential way to inflict damage to nerve cells. Perhaps our findings are game changers. As in hockey and other contact sports, changes in conduct and equipment should be considered,” Wallace said.


@ashwadhwani
ashley.wadhwani@bpdigital.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Coastal GasLink gets interim injunction against Unist’ot’en

The LNG pipeline company can start work Monday with enforcement approved by court.

B.C’s salmon advisory council skips Terrace

Public engagement tour excludes all non-coastal communities

Great kids doing great things for Houston

Members of the Houston Minor Hockey and the Houston Ringette canvassed the… Continue reading

Owners of mining project south of Houston allowed to drill again

New Nadina’s free miners certificate had been suspended in September

Council seeks to replace By-Mac Park’s boat launch

The boat launch is currently unusable; district has received several complaints

REPLAY: B.C’s best video this week

In case you missed it, here’s a look at the replay-worth highlights from this week across the province

Microscopic parasite found in Prince Rupert water affecting thousands

More than 12,000 residents affected by the boil water advisory issued Dec. 14

Trudeau lashes out at Conservatives over migration “misinformation”

Warning against the “dangers of populism,” Trudeau says using immigration as a wedge political issue puts Canada’s future at risk.

B.C. hockey coach creates ‘gear library’ to remove cost barrier of sport

Todd Hickling gathered donations and used gear to remove the cost barrier for kids to play hockey.

Canada’s ambassador meets with second detainee in China

Global Affairs says John McCallum, Canada’s ambassador to China, met with Spavor Sunday

‘They’re coming:’ Flying cars may appear in urban skies by 2023

Air taxis will number 15,000 and become a global market worth $32 billion by 2035

B.C. VIEWS: Andrew Wilkinson on taxes, ICBC and union changes

Opposition leader sees unpredictable year ahead in 2019

5 tips for self-care, mental wellness this holiday season

Ministry of Mental Health and Addictions urging British Columbians to prioritize self care through festive season

Rescued B.C. cat with misshapen legs in need of forever home – with carpet

Mirielle was born with misshapen back legs and after a tough life on the streets, is looking for a forever home.

Most Read