On a media conference call to discuss U.S. Soccer’s Framework for Player Safety campaign this afternoon U.S. Soccer Chief Medical Officer Dr. George Chiampas will have surely raised some eyebrows with his declaration that, “heading, in and of itself doesn’t cause concussions.”
In clarifying his statement, Chiampas said, “purposeful heading has not shown to this date scientifically to lead directly to concussions.” “We’re following the research,” Chiampas said, adding, “that as the research comes out we have the adaptability within U.S. Soccer to adjust as needed.”
Banning players 10 and under from heading the ball and limiting heading among players 11-13 was by far the most controversial part of the U.S. Soccer safety program when it was announced last month.
“The changes that we made,” Chiampas said, “are based on expert opinion at this point, realizing that science is still evolving.” “We know that the vast majority of concussions occur when there is contact between players trying to head the ball,” said Chiampas. “Whether that is head-to-head contact, elbow-to-head or their head hitting the ground while challenging for the ball in the air; by reducing the number of those aerial challenges to head the ball, we believe we will decrease the incident of concussions.”
The question of headgear was raised and Chiampas was clear in stating, “currently across all sports, football, hockey, headgear has not shown to prevent a concussion,” although the doctor conceded that headgear may prevent other head injuries.
The program announced today by the United States Soccer Federation, Recognize and Recover, is touted by the USSF as “a comprehensive player health and safety program. The federation says Recognize and Recover, a” first-of-its-kind program aims to reduce injuries in soccer players of all ages and promote safe play by those on and around the field.”
Educating coaches, players, parents and referees to prevent and better manage injuries is the primary goal of the program and according to Chiampas, “Recognize to Recover will lead to better awareness and understanding of player health and safety initiatives and strengthen the role parents, players, coaches and officials play in preventing, protecting and addressing injuries.”
More information on U.S. Soccer’s concussion guidelines and the Recognize to Recover program is available on USSoccer.com.