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Title Do sub-concussive impacts from soccer heading in practice cause changes in brain structure and function?
Publication Date
Date Accessioned
Discipline/Department Interdisciplinary Graduate Program
Degree Level masters
University/Publisher University of Victoria
Abstract Background: Heading is an important part of soccer, yet recent research has indicated that cumulative effects of repetitive heading may cause sub-concussive injury (Koerte et al., 2015). Objective: The current study aimed to prospectively investigate the effects of repetitive, intentional heading in soccer practice on brain structure and cognitive function using a within-subjects design. Methods: Participants included 11 soccer players (M=20.09, SD=2.88) that were examined immediately pre and post heading practice. Magnetic resonance imaging data were acquired on a 3T GE Scanner with diffusion tensor imaging (DTI). Behavioural measures were also completed pre and post soccer heading and included the Sideline Concussion Assessment Tool 3 (SCAT-3) and several short-computerized executive function tasks. An accelerometer was used to measure the force of the impact during soccer heading. Heart-rate data was collected on Polar Monitors. DTI analyses were completed using FSL’s Tract Based Spatial Statistics to examine changes in both fractional anisotropy (FA) and mean diffusivity (MD) due to heading the soccer ball. The current study investigated microstructural changes and behavioural performance in young soccer players. Heart rate variability data were not available for analyses due to technical difficulties. Results: Heading impacts were not greater than 10g. At this level of impact, there were no significant pre-post heading differences in either FA or MD. There were no significant differences between pre and post heading in the three behavioural tasks. Additionally, there were no significant differences in SCAT-3 scores between groups. Some practice effects were demonstrated in one behavioural task and a section of the SCAT-3. Conclusion: The current work shows initial evidence that repetitive heading in soccer in a practice setting does not cause changes in brain structure or cognitive function. Future research should investigate heading in games and sex differences with a greater sample size.
Subjects/Keywords Soccer; DTI; Executive Function; SCAT-3; Heading; Sub-concussive
Contributors Christie, Brian R. (supervisor); Gawryluk, Jodie R. (supervisor)
Language en
Rights Available to the World Wide Web
Country of Publication ca
Record ID oai:dspace.library.uvic.ca:1828/10051
Repository uvic
Date Retrieved
Date Indexed 2020-06-19
Issued Date 2018-09-11 00:00:00
Note [scholarlevel] Graduate;

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…McKee, & Cantu, 2011; Marar, McIlvain, Fields, & Comstock, 2012; Zuckerman et al., 2015). However, one growing area of concern in soccer is that the repeated impacts to the head through heading the ball may have a cumulative effect and produce long…

…not been enough evidence separating heading from other head impacts in soccer, nor have there been any studies showing a causal link between heading and any form of neurological damage. 4 Chapter Two: Literature Review To understand the variability…

…deficits. What is unclear is whether there is a particular concern in soccer, where players are exposed to a high number of head impacts over the course of a season, and thus have the potential to sustain significant sub-concussive damage. 2.2 Heading in…

heading in soccer usually falls well below those considered to be required for a concussive impact. 2.2.1 Heading as a Sub-Concussive Impact There have been several recent systematic reviews that have attempted to determine the effects of soccer heading

…Tarnutzer et al. (2017) concluded there is weak to no evidence for a link between repetitive impacts in soccer heading and neurocognitive impairments due to methodological issues. Interestingly, 89% of the studies reviewed either did not control…

…Methodological shortcomings seem to be the major issue with sub-concussive impact and soccer heading studies, to date. Research into the effects of repetitive heading is full of mixed results. A multimodal approach to determining the effects of heading is…

…required. Combining neuroimaging and neurocognitive assessment tools while using a suitable control group and controlling number of headers can provide a start to assessing the effects of heading in soccer. 2.3 Purpose of the Current Study The…

…investigation of the effects of heading in soccer is inconclusive. There needs to be a better understanding of the role of sub-concussive impacts on brain health in a sport that is played by millions of players of all ages every day. Repetitive heading may or…