Head Impact Locations in U.S. High School Boys' and Girls' Soccer Concussions, 2012/13-2015/16

J Neurotrauma. 2019 Jul 1;36(13):2073-2082. doi: 10.1089/neu.2017.5319. Epub 2019 Mar 14.


This study describes concussions and concussion-related outcomes sustained by high school soccer players by head impact location, sex, and injury mechanism. Data were obtained for the 2012/13-2015/16 school years from the National High School Sports-Related Injury Surveillance System, High School RIO™. This Internet-based sports injury surveillance system captures data reported by athletic trainers from an annual average of 162 U.S. high schools. Data were analyzed to describe circumstances of soccer concussion (e.g., symptomology, symptom resolution, and return-to-play time) by impact location (i.e., front- [face included], back-, side-, and top-of-the-head) and sex. Most concussions were from front-of-the-head impacts (boys, 30.5%; girls, 34.0%). Overall, 4.1 ± 2.2 and 4.6 ± 2.3 symptoms were reported in boys and girls, respectively. In boys, symptom frequency was not associated with head impact location (p = 0.66); an association was found in girls (p = 0.02), with the highest symptom frequency reported in top-of-the-head impacts (5.4 ± 2.2). Head impact location was not associated with symptom resolution time (boys, p = 0.21; girls, p = 0.19) or return-to-play time (boys, p = 0.18; girls, p = 0.07). Heading was associated with 28.0% and 26.5% of concussions in boys and girls, respectively. Most player-player contact concussions during heading occurred from side-of-the-head impacts (boys, 49.4%; girls, 43.2%); most heading-related ball contact concussions occurred from front-of-the-head (boys, 41.4%; girls, 42.6%) and top-of-the-head (boys, 34.5%; girls, 36.9%) impacts. Head impact location was generally independent of symptom resolution time, return-to-play time, and recurrence among high school soccer concussions. However, impact location may be associated with reported symptom frequency. Further, many of these clinical concussion descriptors were associated with sex.

Keywords: athletes; heading; sports; traumatic brain injury.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Brain Concussion / etiology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Schools
  • Soccer / injuries*