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Biomechanics of Soccer Heading: Head Impact Kinematics, Tissue-Level Brain Strain, and Potential Targets for Reducing Head Impact Burden

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Biomechanics of Soccer Heading: Head Impact Kinematics, Tissue-Level Brain Strain, and Potential Targets for Reducing Head Impact Burden
Filben, Tanner
Soccer is the most popular sport in the world with over 265 million participants. Heading the ball is a unique and fundamental feature of soccer participation which occurs when players intentionally strike the ball with their head to pass, shoot, deflect, or control the ball. Headers represent the majority of head impacts experienced by soccer players and are regularly performed without any obvious signs or symptoms of injury. However, studies have reported associations between repetitive heading exposure and transient and long-term deficits in neurological function. Furthermore, recent evidence suggests former male professional soccer players are at increased risk of neurodegenerative disease later in life. There is concern that increased risk for neurological sequelae is associated with the accumulation of repetitive of head impacts sustained over a playing career. Because of soccer’s global popularity and the potential for short-term and long-term health deficits which may be related to heading exposure, there is a critical need to develop strategies to reduce head impact burden in soccer. This dissertation aims to quantify the biomechanical response associated with soccer heading and to evaluate potential targets for reducing head acceleration exposure among soccer players. Results may inform evidence-based guidance intended to mitigate the risk of brain injury and promote player safety. This research is comprised of three parts. The first part utilizes an instrumented mouthpiece and finite element modeling to quantify head impact kinematics and tissue-level brain strain experienced during on-field headers by youth and collegiate female soccer players. The second part assesses the association between on-field heading technique and head impact kinematics experienced by female youth soccer players. The third part evaluates relationships between head impact kinematics and heading technique quantified via motion capture in a cohort of male and female soccer players, assesses the effect of soccer-related exertion on heading technique and head impact kinematics, compares neuropsychological function before and after heading, and evaluates the ability of heading technique to be reliably assessed by raters via film review.
brain injury
head kinematics
repetitive head impacts
soccer heading
Stitzel, Joel D (advisor)
Urban, Jillian E (committee member)
Miles, Christopher M (committee member)
Bullock, Garrett S (committee member)
Nicholson, Kristen F (committee member)
Sell, Timothy C (committee member)
2024-02-13T09:35:59Z (accessioned)
2024 (issued)
Biomedical Engineering (discipline)
2029-01-12 (terms)
2029-01-12 (liftdate)
http://hdl.handle.net/10339/102898 (uri)
en (iso)
Wake Forest University

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