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The effect of protective headgear on head injuries and concussions in adolescent football (soccer) players

Abstract

Objective: To examine the effects of protective headgear in adolescent football (soccer) players.

Design: Cross-sectional study.

Setting: Oakville Soccer Club, Oakville, Canada.

Participants: Football players aged 12–17 years.

Intervention: A questionnaire examining the 2006 football season using self-reported symptoms.

Main outcome measures: The number of concussions experienced during the current football season, the duration of symptoms, injuries to the head and face and any associated risk factors for these injuries.

Results: In the population studied, 47.8% had experienced symptoms of a concussion during the current football year. 26.9% of athletes who wore headgear (HG) and 52.8% of those who did not wear headgear (No-HG) had concussions. Approximately 4 out of 5 athletes in each group did not realize they had suffered a concussion. More than one concussion was experienced by 50.0% of the concussed HG athletes and 69.3% of the concussed No-HG group. 23.9% of all concussed players experienced symptoms for at least 1 day or longer. Variables that increased the risk of suffering a concussion during the 2006 football year included being female and not wearing headgear. Being female and not wearing football headgear increased the risk of suffering an abrasion, laceration or contusion on areas of the head covered by football headgear.

Conclusion: Adolescent football players experience a significant number of concussions. Being female may increase the risk of suffering a concussion and injuries on the head and face, while the use of football headgear may decrease the risk of sustaining these injuries.

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