Dr. Robert Cantu is widely considered on of the nation’s top experts on concussions and brain trauma, especially within youth sports. As the chief of neurosurgery at Emerson Hospital and co-director of Boston University’s Center for the Study of Traumatic Encephalopathy, Cantu has regularly pushed for greater safety practices in youth football and other sports. Recently, he teamed up with World Cup champion Brandi Chastain in an effort to ban header, or hitting the ball with your head, in soccer for children aged 14 and under.
Until the most recent World Cup in Brazil, brain injuries in soccer were often looked over in favor of focusing on seemingly more dangerous sports such as football and hockey, but soccer is one of the leading causes of brain trauma in young athletes. William Brangham from PBS recently sat down for an interview with Cantu about what we know regarding brain injuries in soccer and what can be done to keep young athletes safe.
If you’ve never thought of soccer as a high risk sport for long-term brain trauma, the interview is a must read. Not only does Cantu show that concussions are surprisingly common in soccer, but he digs into the implications of recent studies suggesting that non-concussive hits may also be creating long-term brain damage in young athletes.