Legendary athlete brings attention to concussions

Briana Scurry speaks at Penn State Behrend

ERIE, Pa. - After a concussion changed one US soccer player's life forever, she's warning kids about the dangerous injury.

A recent study shows girls soccer is second only to football when it comes to concussion rate.

After two Olympic gold-medals and a World Cup championship, legendary US goalkeeper Briana Scurry suffered a career-ending concussion. It happened in April of 2010. Scurry was playing for the Washington Freedom. She said it happened when she went to scoop up a routine ball that she'd scooped up a million times, but this time a player came at the ball and her knee nailed the side of Scurry's head. The referee did not call a foul and told Scurry to play on.

"I played on," Briana said. "The back of the jerseys hard to get blurry, and I was seeing double of the ball."

That play changed Scurry's life forever, and that game was the last one she'd ever play.

"For the next three years I struggled," Scurry said. "I had intense headaches. I had missed diagnosis from several different doctors."

It wasn't until a year ago, four years after her concussion, that Scurry said she finally felt like herself again.

She says the number of concussions in women's soccer is alarming.

Jordan Oberlander, a sophomore forward for Penn State Behrend's women's soccer team says she sees it happen all the time.

"She got the major end of it, but it is definitely all over soccer," Oberlander said.

Scurry says in 2010 alone, 50,000 youth soccer players had concussions. She says that's more than five to six other sports combined.

US. Soccer recently announced that kids under the age of 10 should no longer be heading the ball and that children between the ages of 11 and 13 should be limiting the amount of heading in practice.

Scurry says she is in favor of these new rules.

"I mean there are so many other aspects of the game that morning at that age in particular," Scurry said. "Heading will come."

Oberlander says kids need to be coached on how to head the ball.

"Proper way of heading is a huge deal," Oberlander said. "The top of your head is not the best way, and I think that's where a lot of injuries do come from, but then there's also the injuries of head-to-head contact which is hard to avoid."

According to recent studies, heading isn't causing a majority of the headings. Instead, like in Scurry's case, physical contact is resulting in many concussions.

The answer to preventing those Scurry says is head gear.

Scurry says head gear is so important for prevention and that she hopes one day it's seen as essential for playing the game. She says education and detection are also just as crucial.


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