Young athletes, parents and coaches have become more aware of the issue of concussions in recent years -- but a New Jersey researcher says one aspect of this issue is still not talked about.

 

Football is the No. 1 culprit when it comes to youth sports and concussions. What's No. 2 may come as a surprise: girls' soccer.

Neuropsychologist Rosemarie Moser, who heads the Sports Concussion Center of New Jersey, says don't think for a minute that it's not a highly competitive, high-impact sport.

"Girls clash into each other, they bang heads, they fall onto the ground, they hit goal posts," she says.

Many may assume that girls play a lighter, less aggressive or not as competitive version of a sport, Moser said. That's usually not true, she says, and it's caused parents and coaches to neglect the issue of girls and concussions.

"Unfortunately, girls have been left out of the conversation, and they need to be back in it," said Moser. "What we do know right now is that girls seem to be more vulnerable to concussion, more vulnerable to the effects of concussion and may have longer recovery periods, and be more symptomatic."

One reason could be that girls' neck muscles are not as strong as those of boys.

Athletes, parents and coaches need to pay attention to the risks, Moser says. And athletes who may have sustained a concussion should be evaluated before returning to the game.

The mother of a girl who sustained a serious concussion during a soccer game several years ago believes that  parents are more in tune with what to do.

"They are aware of the need to rest eyes and rest heads and a lot of kids are not able to go right back into school," said Judy Glogau of Ringoes, N.J.

If a concussion is diagnosed, Moser says a period of absolute rest has been shown to be most beneficial.

Her new book is called "Ahead of the Game: The Parents' Guide to Youth Sports Concussion".