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Journal Article


Zutrauen S, McFaull S, Do MT. Paediatr. Child Health (1996) 2020; 25(6): 378-384.


(Copyright © 2020, Canadian Paediatric Society, Publisher Pulsus Group)




32963651 PMCID


BACKGROUND: Participating in sports is a great way to gain physical, psychological, and social benefits. However, it also carries the risk of injury. Soccer is one of the most popular sports worldwide, and in recent years, there have been concerns about potential vulnerabilities to head injuries.

Objectives: To investigate soccer-related head injuries (SRHIs), using data from the electronic Canadian Hospitals Injury Reporting and Prevention Program (eCHIRPP) surveillance system. Specifically, we aim to compare characteristics of SRHI cases to all head injury cases within the eCHIRPP database.

Methods: Descriptive analyses of emergency department (ED) injury surveillance data (2011 to 2017) for individuals aged 5 to 29 years from all participating eCHIRPP sites. Computation of proportionate injury ratios (PIR) comparing SRHIs to all head injuries reported to eCHIRPP, and 95% confidence intervals (CI).

Results: A total of 3,970 SRHIs were reported to eCHIRPP. Injuries were from contact with another player, the ball, ground, goal-post, and other causes. Of the injuries caused by contact with the ball, 9% were from purposely directing the ball with the head (heading). A higher proportion of concussions (PIR=1.32, 95% confidence interval [CI]: 1.27 to 1.37) and minor closed head injuries (PIR=1.20, 95% CI: 1.15 to 1.26) were observed in soccer players. Higher proportions of head injuries occurred in organized soccer and soccer played outdoors. However, admission to the ED for a SRHI was rare (PIR=0.40, 95% CI: 0.30 to 0.55).

Conclusions: Overall, elevated proportions of brain injuries were observed among soccer players, however, these injuries were unlikely to result in a hospital admission. Moreover, purposely heading the ball contributed to few ED visits.

Language: en


Brain injuries; Emergency departments; Soccer


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