Last summer, stories about concussions in youth soccer and youth football made headlines as researchers tried to determine when and how kids are most vulnerable.
As it turns out, it's not just about headers and high school ball. While head-to-ball contact accounts for some concussions in soccer, head-to-head contact is (not surprisingly) dangerous as well. And the kids most at risk in football aren't the big kids in high school, but the little kids playing football at the elementary school level. Not only are they colliding with each other, but their hits to the head are colliding with a time that their brains are still developing, making them more likely to suffer long-term effects.
The more we read, the more tempting it is to wrap our kids in bubble wrap. Fortunately, no one is suggesting that, or even sounding alarms just yet. But, as the research on brain development continues to advance, it's easy to be optimistic that the research on concussions will, too, and that we'll be able to protect our kids from the fate suffered by some of the sports heroes they idolize.
Even without bubble wrap.