The National Football League (NFL) has become the primary focus of concussion discussion in sports, but a former Major League Soccer MVP says it is high time to shine a light on women and children on fields of play.
“The NFL has been the ‘target,’ but let’s be honest, when you look at the statistics of women’s and girls’ sports, soccer is a huge part of it,” Taylor Twellman, a TV soccer analyst for ESPN and founder of the ThinkTaylor Foundation dedicated to educating young athletes on concussions, said in a recent interview. “Everyone wants to address it regarding the NFL, but there are millions of kids playing sports that no one is talking about that we should be talking about a little bit more.”
Twellman quit in his playing prime after an on-field blow to the head in 2008 that plagued him over the next seven years.
Dennis Cardone, co-director of New York University (NYU) Langone’s Concussion Center and chief medical officer for the New York City Public Schools Athletic League, said women’s sports produce a large share of concussions.
“Women’s soccer is right up there with football, with wrestling. Women’s basketball, hockey and lacrosse are all serious risks for concussion,” said Cardone, who is also team physician for USA Wrestling and USA Fencing.
Earlier this month, retired US national team soccer player Brandi Chastain, who scored the winning goal at the 1999 Women’s World Cup, said that she would donate her brain posthumously to researchers studying the impact of concussions.
More than one-third of 2,322 concussion patients at NYU’s center in the past three years were sports-related. Forty-seven percent of the cases were pediatric (under 18) and women’s sports accounted for 39 percent of adult sports injuries treated.
In adults, cycling topped the list (14 percent), followed by soccer (11), basketball (8), skiing (7) and 6 percent each for football and ice hockey.
Among younger patients, soccer led at 23 percent, followed by football (14 percent), basketball (12) and ice hockey (9).
Both Twellman and Cardone, who participated in a recent panel on concussions at NYU Medical Center, say education is a key to protecting athletes.
Twellman’s foundation runs educational programs to inform youth players, parents and coaches how to recognize concussions.
“Economically, it’s difficult to have a certified specialist on the sideline,” Twellman said. “Education at all levels is important because all it takes is another set of eyes, another set of ears. Too many parents are relying on one coach to observe everything and it’s impossible. The concussed athlete doesn’t know what’s going on, so you need someone else there.”
Twellman learned that lesson the hard way.
“I had two real bad concussions, and the last one ended my career,” he said.
The 2005 MLS MVP and five-time All-Star with the New England Revolution, Twellman scored 101 goals in 174 matches over eight seasons, but in 2008 came his second “bad” concussion.
“It was as if I was in a horrible car accident. The goalkeeper punched me in the head,” he said. “It’s been a grind and a process to try and get back to full health.”
“At age 28 to lose your career at just the start of your prime, you go through all of those emotions and on top of it you feel like absolute dog crap,” added Twellman, who experienced the gamut of symptoms. “Whether it’s nausea, dizziness, vertigo, double vision, migraines. I had all of them at some point.”
Cardone said the concussion center has been researching both the diagnosis and treatment of concussions, including rehabbing with light aerobic activities and other therapies.
“Before, it was cognitive rest, physical rest and that was the treatment,” Cardone said. “In the past two, three years studies have said maybe we could affect duration and the course of a concussion with some interventions.”
Cardone said multi-prong approaches use physical therapies, speech and auditory therapy and the testing of eye movements.
“Fifty percent of brain function, or more, is exhibited through eyes, movement and vision,” said Cardone, who said parents could be shown how to administer eye tests.
A big concern in youth soccer surrounds the act of heading the ball, and the US Soccer Federation has advised that players 10 and younger not be exposed to it, and players up to 13 only practice it and not head the ball in games.
“There is a lot of jostling and a lot of head impact. Most of the concussions are from hitting your head against an opposing player when going for a header,” Cardone said.
Neither Cardone nor Twellman wants to discourage youth from taking up sports.
“I think it’s important that youth sports addresses it, doesn’t scare people, doesn’t take people away from the sport, but adjusts rules accordingly,” Twellman said. “I think we’ll make them safer.”
Chen Jifang hits the gym for at least two hours every day and has the physique to prove it. At nearly 70, she is being held up as a shining example as China orders its vast population to get fit and lose the bulge. The grandmother from Shanghai has become a minor celebrity in in the past few months after her newfound and unlikely love for working out made national headlines. After becoming a gym regular in December 2018, Chen lost 14kg in three months, and now sports the kind of flat stomach and toned muscles that people decades younger aspire to. She
Former MLB pitcher Wang Wei-chung has signed the biggest contract with a local team in Taiwan’s professional baseball history, the Wei Chuan Dragons said yesterday. The 28-year-old left-hander signed a five-year US$2.08 million contract with the Dragons, team chairman Hsu Wen-fang told a news conference. It is the biggest contract in the CPBL’s 31-year history, surpassing a three-year, US$1.36 million deal Lin Chih-sheng signed in 2016 with the CTBC Brothers. Although the overall value of Wang’s deal set a new record, his average monthly salary of NT$990,000 (US$33,886) is lower than Lin’s pay of NT$1.2 million per month in 2017
TAIWANESE TO PLAY: Jason Jung faces Frederico Coria in the men’s singles first round today, while in the women’s singles, Hsieh Su-wei is to take on Barbara Haas Novak Djokovic is to renew his love-hate relationship with Roland Garros in the knowledge that it is himself rather than seemingly unsettled 12-time champion Rafael Nadal who could pose the greatest threat to winning a second Paris title and 18th Grand Slam crown. The only man to beat Djokovic this year is Djokovic after the Serb’s hair-trigger temper prompted a sensational disqualification from the US Open. The 33-year-old arrives in the French capital with a 31-1 record this year after his New York brain-fade was followed by a record 36th Masters title in Rome. Djokovic’s 2016 triumph at Roland Garros allowed him to
Taiwan’s Jason Jung was knocked out of the first round of the French Open in straight sets on Sunday, while Andy Murray said it was going to be “difficult” for the former world No. 1 to reach his level of old after he also fell to a lopsided defeat by fellow three-time Grand Slam champion Stan Wawrinka. Jung fell to a 7-5, 7-6 (8/6), 7-6 (7/3) defeat to Argentina’s Federico Coria in 3 hours, 19 minutes at Roland Garros, despite hitting 55 winners. Jung served for both the first and second sets, then failed to convert two set points at 5-4 in