Whether you’re watching today’s World Cup game to support Team U.S.A. or Belgium, take note of the high impact headers that can lead to game-winning goals. As impressive as these soccer moves are, research is showing that they can cause serious injury when practiced among youth players, which has spurred sports leaders to take action.

A new concussion safety campaign, Parents and Pros for Safer Soccer (PASS), led by the Sports Legacy Institute and the Institute of Sports Law and Ethics (ISLE), is calling to delay the use of headers in U.S. youth soccer players until high school age.

A concussion is a type of traumatic brain injury, or TBI, caused by a bump, blow, or jolt to the head that can change the way the brain normally works.

USA Today reported data showing that “at least 30 percent of concussions in soccer are caused by heading a ball or attempting to head a ball and colliding with another player.”

As head injuries become an increasing concern in sports, Adventist Rehabilitation Hospital of Maryland is working with Montgomery County Public Schools (MCPS) to improve concussion diagnosis and treatment.

The result of the partnership is a program, which began in fall 2013, that requires all high school athletes to take a preseason baseline exam every two years using a computerized tool called ImPACT™.

“ImPACT measures cognitive functions such as memory, processing speed and reaction time,” says Shital Pavawalla, PhD, neuropsychologist and clinical director of the Concussion Assessment and Management Program at Adventist Rehabilitation Hospital of Maryland. “The baseline exam results can be compared with post-injury tests to aid in diagnosis and to help determine an appropriate treatment plan.”

Adventist Rehabilitation Hospital of Maryland provides exams at 13 of the 25 Montgomery County high schools, testing more than 8,000 athletes during the 2013-2014 school year. The hospital expects to provide about 2,000 additional tests to freshmen and new athletes during this school year.

In addition to the MCPS partnership, Adventist Rehabilitation offers a comprehensive concussion clinic for adolescents and adults, ages 14 and older, who have experienced a concussion injury from any trauma, including from sports, motor vehicle accidents or falls.

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