In light of the growing concern regarding head trauma in athletics, experts are examining all aspects of sports to ensure the safety of players.
And as it turns out, even a small and seemingly inconsequential action -- like a header in soccer -- can have an effect on a player's cognitive function.
Anne Sereno, a neuroscientist at the University of Texas Health Science Center, recently conducted a study on soccer players to determine whether and how much they were impacted by headers. And the answer might surprise you.
Sereno and her team selected a group of 12 female soccer players between the ages of 15 and 18. The study was observational, so the researchers did not control how many headers the high schoolers logged.
After practices, Sereno administered a simple iPad test meant to measure cognitive function. She and her team found that even a relatively small number of headers -- on average between two and 20, with results skewed toward two -- delayed reaction time by 30 to 50 milliseconds.
"These findings suggest that even subconcussive blows in soccer can result in cognitive function changes that are consistent with mild traumatic brain injury of the frontal lobes," the researchers wrote.
While this study is certainly eye-opening, the research should be expanded before conclusions are drawn. Are these results unique to high schoolers, some of whom are still growing? What are the long term effects of headers?
If you think you've read and heard a lot about concussions recently, buckle up. This is just the beginning.
(H/T to Wired)