Injury Prevention

Minimizing the risk of head injuries

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Photo Credit: 
Bob Frid

While Taylor Twellman has been doing well of late to rise through the broadcast ranks, at 31-years-old, he should be in the prime of his soccer playing career. The former New England Revolution striker was one of the most efficient goalscorers in Major League Soccer (MLS) history, but just as quick as he got the ball in the net, he saw his career come to an end.

“If you had told me I would be commentating a few years ago, I would have said you were out of your coconut,” Twellman said to USA Today last year. Unfortunately for Twellman, it was his own coconut that left him sidelined.

Soccer is a physically demanding sport where injuries of all sorts can take their toll on players. For a professional soccer club, injury prevention and treatment are common practice and necessary to ensure the safety and rehabilitation of players. The injuries most heavily discussed in today’s sports landscape are concussions.

The term concussion refers to a minor head trauma. Concussions have been a topical issue in sporting news, as many star athletes have been sidelined due to dangerous and nagging effects of these head injuries. Most in this country have been aware of, Canadian hockey superstar Sidney Crosby’s woes in recent times, as he has only played in a handful of hockey games this season due to continued concussion symptoms.

It may be expected to some degree in a sport like hockey.  However, it is certainly not only the rink that’s seen these traumatic head injuries. Fellow Canadian and former Major League Baseball (MLB) American League MVP Justin Morneau was only able to play 69 games this past season due to post -concussion syndrome.

Soccer has not been able to escape the grasp of concussions either. In addition to Twellman, former first overall MLS SuperDraft pick Alecko Eskandarian also, ended his soccer career prematurely due to concussion related medical issues. These above mentioned examples illustrate that injuries and concussions can affect any athletes in any sport.

Vancouver Whitecaps FC developed many new initiatives last year under physiotherapy consultant Rick Celebrini to assist with injury prevention. These initiatives have been key in shortening injury time for Whitecaps FC players

Specific to concussions, MLS and Whitecaps FC are both proactively working on dealing with the issue of concussions. MLS held a Medical Symposium earlier this year and like all major sports in North America, the league has created a protocol for dealing with head traumas that will come into effect this year.

Over the next month, whitecapsfc.com will continue to look at the issue and prevention of concussions. In part two of the series we will take an in-depth look at the new MLS concussion protocol and innovative ways Whitecaps FC prevent injuries. In the final part of the series we will look at what players can do to help minimize the risk of serious injury on the soccer pitch.