Study: Women Football Players More Vulnerable to Injury from HeadingSports Buzz

August 02, 2018 13:14
Study: Women Football Players More Vulnerable to Injury from Heading

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Women brains are much more assailable than men's to injury from recurrent football heading, according to a new study.

According to findings published online in the journal Radiology, the parts of damaged brain tissue were five times more extensive in female football players than in males, proposing that sex-specific guidelines may be guaranteed for preventing soccer-related head injuries.

"Researchers and clinicians have long noticed that women fare worse following head injury than men, but some have said that's only because women are more willing to report symptoms," said study leader Michael Lipton, Professor at Albert Einstein College of Medicine in New York.

"Based on our study, which measured objective changes in brain tissue rather than self-reported symptoms, women do seem more likely than men to suffer brain trauma from heading soccer balls," Lipton added.

Around 30 million women and girls play football worldwide, according to the International Federation of Association Football, known as FIFA, the international governing body of football.

A Diffusion Tensor Imaging (DTI) has been performed by Lipton and his colleagues in the study, which is a form of MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging) on 49 male and female amateur football players respectively.

Ranging in the age of 18-50 with a median age of 26, both the groups reported an akin number of headings over the earlier this year - an average of 487 headings for men and 469 for women.  

DTI detects subtle brain damage by measuring the direction of the diffusion of water in white matter (the deep brain tissue that coordinates communication between brain regions).

An unvaried diffusion of water that is measured on a zero-to-one scale named Fractional Anisotropy (FA) simultaneously better the microstructural integrity of the tissue. The Finding of a low-FA brain region indicates structural impairment to the brain.

The study found that the volume of damaged white matter in women soccer players was five times greater than for male players and as well found that women had eight brain regions where greater levels of heading were associated with lower FA compared with only three regions in men.

By Sowmya Sangam

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