Soccer Heading Doesn't Impair Cognitive Function

Article excerpt

SAN ANTONIO--A full season's worth of soccer heading contacts has no adverse effects on cognitive function in collegiate players, Dr. Margot Putukian reported at a national sports medicine meeting.

Some observers of the game have wondered whether repeated soccer heading might cause neuropsychologic harm, given that many players report headaches after a game. But headache is a common and nonspecific complaint--particularly among young elite-level competitive athletes, such as swimmers, who complain of headache after a meet, noted Dr. Putukian, director of primary care sports medicine at Penn State Orthopaedics & Center for Sports Medicine, State College.

In conjunction with the university's athletic concussion program, all men's and women's varsity soccer players completed a 40-minute battery of neuropsychologic tests as part of their preseason physical evaluation. The battery, which included the Stroop Color-Word Test, the Brief Visual Memory Test-Revised, the Hopkins Verbal Learning Test, Trail Making tests A and B, and Controlled Oral Word Association, was designed to assess memory, problem solving, attention / concentration, speed of information processing, new learning, and reaction time.

Dr. Putukian and the athletic trainers then recorded every heading contact for each Penn State player during all home games for a full season. …