By Pat Ciarrocchi
DOWNINGTOWN, Pa. (CBS)– The Strath Haven girls’ soccer team opened its season in Downingtown against Bishop Shanahan, wearing head gear. They became the first team in the Philadelphia region to voluntarily take this visible step to reduce head injuries from concussions.
It was all their coach’s idea.
“We had a lot of concussions the last few years,” says Head Coach Gino Miraglia. “Five or six last year and we’re just trying to reduce concussions. We’ll see if this works.”
Every coach worries about player injuries and when it’s a player’s head, Team Physician Dr. Erik Lake says you can’t be too careful.
“A concussion can be really dangerous,” says Dr. Lake. “Worst case someone could die from a blow or impact to the head.”
So far, no studies are saying head gear reduces concussions, but Strath Haven’s Coach Miraglia thought the padded head band he found in use by other soccer teams around the country could help.
“It’s padded in the front and on the sides, and absorbs some of the shock from elbow to head or head to head contact,” explains Miraglia.
With high school sports becoming more aggressive, aside from football, girls’ soccer and girls’ lacrosse have the highest rate of concussions, with symptoms like dizziness, vomiting, sensitivity to light and even a decrease in memory.
Dr. Lake says the real concern is for the athlete who returns to a sport after he or she is completely cleared from a first concussion.
That’s why Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett signed the “Safety in Youth Sports Act.” It requires school coaches to pull players suspected of sustaining a concussion, and not allowing them back on the field until a medical professional clears them.
Most of the girls on the Strath Haven team adapted easily to the new head gear in the pre-season. But Coach Miraglia admits there was a lot of giggling in the beginning especially as they pulled their ponytails through an open port in the top of the head protector.