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soccer and brain damage

Lynne E. Bilston bilston at tiny.me.su.oz.au
Mon Jun 26 14:15:29 EST 1995

In article <3rsnq3$ldd at cronkite.seas.gwu.edu> nor at gwis2.circ.gwu.edu (Ronald Petrarca) writes:

>     Does anyone know anything about the subtle brain injuries which 
>occur as a result of "heading" a soccer ball. I read something pertaining 
>to this subject a few years ago in a study of Norwegian soccer players. 
>How do the injuries occur? How well do the skull and cerebrospinal fluid 
>protect the brain from repeated yet minor blows to the head?
>     I am very interested in this subject, and I would greatly appreciate 
>any help. Feel free to write as much as you like!!!!

>               Ron Petrarca 


I don't know about soccer, but there have been some studies done in France a 
few years ago about boxers, who also have a repeated head impacts, and often
get accumulated mild brain injuries over many years. They instrumented boxers'
helmets and measured accelerations etc. These are to the side of the head, 
which changes things a bit from the top of the head. I can't locate the exact 
reference of the boxing study right now, but I'll hunt around if you're 

I would imagine though, that the direct heading of the ball would be less of
a problem, as the motion would be largely linear rather than rotational as in 
boxing.  There may be some small skull deformations, or it could be a pressure
wave phenomena. The type of loading from soccer may help protect the brain
somewhat, since the direct line would maximise extrusion of CSF through the
foramen magnum as part of a pressure wave phenomena, rather than allowing
large pressures to cause a coup or contre-coup type of injury.
Actually, at least biomechanically, relatively little is knownabout very mild 
brain injuries in comparison to the more severe injuries suchas DAI, ASDH etc, 
and there is little hard pathology data because the patients survive, rather 
than dying as in severe injuries. 


Lynne Bilston

Lynne E. Bilston, PhD
Department of Mechanical and Mechatronic Engineering     Tel (02) 351-2344
Room 426, Building J07                                   Fax (02) 351-3760
University of Sydney, N.S.W., 2006

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