When you think concussions in sports, the first sport that may pop up is football, but not usually soccer. In the spotlight on concussions, soccer tends to be pushed out of the light, even though it has a strikingly similar issue.
“I would say behind football, [soccer] probably the sport that has the most [concussions], because they tend to collide heads while running for the ball. It’s very contact heavy,” said Bonita High School Head Athletic Trainer Mrs. Okayama.
As of Jan. 26, there were five reported concussions in soccer this season at Bonita High School. Two of those include senior Mark Mumford and freshman Kendall Caron.
Mumford got his concussion during a game on Jan. 19 against Diamond Bar. He was trying to stop a potential goal from being scored, but the opposing player restricted Mumford from using his hands resulting in him using his head and stopping the goal.
“It didn’t hit me initially, it kind of waited an hour or two and then I was brushing my teeth and I fell over. I was like, ‘Oh man, this is kind of bad’. I tried to get up but then I couldn’t get up. My sense of balance was nonexistent and I had to have my mom come over and I had to hold on the walls to walk. That lasted for a day or two, but I completely lost my sense of balance,” said Mumford.
The road after his diagnosis was not easy either. Mumford was told by his doctor to wake up every 35-60 minutes so he wouldn’t fall into a coma during the first 3-4 days of his injury.
Going back to school after suffering a brain injury is a tough task that student athletes should not have to do. Athletes are supposed to follow specific protocol regarding their return to school, since the brain is not ready to take on the intense school environment.
The process of admitting an athlete after a concussion changed in 2013 because of the issue becoming more popular in the news. The protocol surrounding concussions is the athlete must see a physician and get cleared with them first and then wait up to nine days until they can return to practice.
According to California law, all coaches must receive training on concussions and every school requires the athletes and parents to sign a concussion information sheet before participating.
They must follow strict guidelines provided by CIF and California law for their return to practice. If symptoms return at any point, the athlete must stop practicing and meet with a physician or athletic trainer.
A major issue with concussions is that there’s athletes who choose to ignore their symptoms. They can be unable to fully recognize their symptoms, want to continue playing, or they may have another reason to ignore their symptoms.
Caron is an example of the athlete not recognizing their injury right away.
“A girl ran into my head and we didn’t know I had a concussion then [in that game]. When I tried to play in the next game, in the first five minutes, a girl tackled me and I hit my head into the ground. I actually had two concussions,” said Caron.
Caron knew she suffered the injury when she became sensitive to lights. She became dehydrated and had to take medicine to get better. She was out all Christmas break in order to follow protocol and return safely.
Caron still is reminded of her injury every once in a while when she plays.
“Sometimes when I head the ball, I feel a little dizzy. If I head in the wrong part of my head, it starts to hurt my head a little bit. I have a permanent bump on the back of my head right by my ear,” she said.
Fortunately, Caron is back on the field and back to her old self again. The wait to play is always an anxious process that concussed athletes need to do in order to return to themselves mentally.
Concussions can harm young athletes because their brain is still developing and returning too early and risking another hit could be fatal.
Both Mumford and Caron needed to follow protocol to return in the best condition possible because that is what their team needs.
Concussions are a serious matter and they should not be taken lightly. Brain injuries are also not limited to football and the country often forgets that. Concussions can happen in any sport, whether it’s popular or not.