Girls wearing the Full90 Sports head gear. Photo Credit: Full90 Sports
Youth Soccer News: NBC’s Rock Center with Brian Williams to Look at Concussions and Headgear in Girls' Soccer
In a follow up to an earlier report on concussions in girls’ soccer, NBC’s Rock Center with Brian Williams will air an episode on Thursday, June 7, (10:00 p.m./9:00 p.m. CT)on the use of headgear to try to prevent this serious injury. Reporter Kate Snow, who presented the earlier May 9 story, talks to players and doctors about the use of head gear, particularly one made by the company Full90 Sports.
In her first report, Snow spoke with fifteen-year-old Allison Kasacavage, a former youth player from Pennsylvania who suffered at least five concussions while playing youth soccer. Kasacavage explained the difficulties of living with severe concussions, including being able to attend school for only four hours and needing lower lighting to ease her headaches.
Snow also spoke with Dr. Bob Cantu, the head of the surgery division and director of sports medicine at Emerson Hospital in Concord, Mass. Dr. Cantu pointed out in that report that girls’ soccer is “right at the top of the list” when it comes to concussion injuries. He also stated that in sports played by both boys and girls, the girls report twice as many concussions.
It was a concussion to his own daughter, Lauren, during a soccer match that gave Jeff Skeen, founder and CEO of Full90 Sports, the idea of creating something that would protect players from head injuries. Skeen, a helmet manufacturer who has suffered his own share of concussions from sports and motorcycle riding, developed a padded headband for his daughter Lauren to wear during games. After repeated requests from other players and parents, Skeen moved forward to develop the company’s products, including the F90 Premier Headguard.
In the upcoming report, Snow talks to Texas youth player Natasha Helmick, who spent six years playing soccer with head gear. A year ago she was sidelined due to concussions, which she believed the head gear would protect her from. In the interview, Helmick admits that she probably played more aggressively because of the confidence the head gear gave her.
The Thursday report also taped San Diego Surf coach and former Coach of the Year Chris Lemay in Del Mar, California and asked his players on the U13 team their thoughts on why they started wearing the headgear and how it protects them. Maree Mossmer’s daughter, Nicole (pictured above) plays for San Diego Surf and received a concussion and was sidelined for a while, started wearing the headgear and now several of her teammates are using it as a precautionary measure.
In the report, Dr. Cantu disputes the effectiveness of head gear for preventing concussions and believes there is no scientific evidence that they provide any protection. Skeen, however, disputes that claim and points to a pair of independent studies – one presented in the British Journal of Sports Medicine – that show some protection from head gear. That particular study found that the most common cause of concussion is head-to-player contact (for example head-to-head or head-to-elbow), and that the head gear tested did show a reduction in concussion episodes. Another article in the British Journal of Sports Medicine directly addresses the use of head gear by adolescent players.
Jeff Skeen, founder and CEO of Full90 Sports. Photo Credit: Full90 Sports
Responding to questions about the upcoming program, Skeen told SoccerNation News, “We are thrilled that NBC is doing a segment on the role of protective head gear in reducing head injuries. We know that several doctors have been interviewed – some in support of the use of our head gear and some who do not feel there is enough evidence to support its use. It will definitely be controversial and we hope that the viewers will keep an open mind when watching the show.”
Concussions are some of the most serious of all sports injuries, particularly because they can be difficult to identify and have such long-term consequences. Every soccer parent and soccer coach should be aware of the dangers of concussion and look at ways of reducing the possible incidence of the injury.
“Our goal is not to sell a product but to raise awareness about head injuries in soccer,” said Skeen, “and encourage the use of headgear as a preventative tool. Full90 Headguards cannot eliminate all head injuries, but are the starting point in an effort to reduce head injuries, in soccer, that have long-term, negative health consequences.”
Whether you believe head gear can prevent or reduce concussions, it is worth the time to watch the Rock Center report, read the related information, and make your own decision.