There is a reason soccer is called football in other nations. Much like American football, soccer requires getting the ball into a goal and preventing the other team from doing the same. Such action requires exceptional offense and defense, which often includes certain violent maneuvers that are allowed under sports rules.
Briana Scurry, a two-time Olympic gold medalist in women’s soccer and a World Cup winner, knows this all too well. In 2010, as the goalkeeper of the Washington Freedom, she “took the knee of a Philadelphia Independence forward to her temple at full velocity during a Women’s Professional match.” The injury changed her life and ended her soccer career. However, it also created a new career plan for her – advocate for brain health, particularly women’s brain health.
In 2015, U.S. Soccer banned heading in soccer for children under 10 and limited heading for children 11 to 13. (Ages when children’s brains are still developing.) This was much needed because, as the Institute of Medicine and the National Research Council has confirmed, “young athletes in particular face a ‘culture of resistance’ when it comes to reporting and treating concussions”. (Scurry also supports mandating that players wear headgear when they play.) This action was partially brought to their attention by Scurry because, rightly so, “She sees herself as an advocate for women’s health, especially in relation to concussions and traumatic brain injury.”
This past week, Scurry, with Joanne Finegan, Alison Cernich, Yelena Goldin, Mike Colson and Rosemarie Scolaro Moser, all whom are traumatic brain injury advocates, and joined by Rep. Bill Pascrell (NJ), the head of the Congressional Brain Injury Task Force, spoke at the “Women and Traumatic Brain Injury: A Frontier Yet To Be Explored” conference at the Rayburn House Office Building in Washington D.C. (Scurry also testified before Congress on the same issue in 2014.) At this conference, Scurry told her story, including her accident, recovery and her ongoing struggles. “Scurry hopes that her testimony… will help members of Congress understand the dangers and resulting issues of brain injuries… [and] take charge in making moves to change the way things… are conducted.” This includes changing the knowledge of doctors who once told her things like, “You can’t possibly have post-concussive syndrome anymore because it’s been too long.” Obviously these doctors were wrong, because they were uneducated about brain injuries.
Hopefully, her testimony will help educate doctors and the public about what a concussion can do to your brain.
According to the NCAA, in soccer, females are at a 2.1 times greater risk of getting a concussion than males and later have more concussion symptoms, including, but not limited to, poor concentration and increased fatigue. (More information and statistics can be found in the online NCAA article Do Female Athletes Concuss Differently than Males?)