Does your son or daughter play soccer? Football? Baseball? Interestingly enough, optometrists can play an important role in their sports career! Especially if they want to continue on to the professional level, although it’s not always fun and games.
Former women’s U.S. soccer player, Cindy Parlow Cone’s career suddenly ended in 2006 due to a serious concussion. To this day, she still suffers from headaches, fatigue, visual and balance problems. Women’s soccer athletes are more likely to suffer from concussions and a new study seems to believe it’s due to this reason; having your eyes closed while heading the soccer ball! This study suggests that closing their eyes while going up for a header decreases the athlete’s visual awareness making the athlete more likely to collide with another athlete or having the ball hit awkwardly on his or her head.
On a more exciting note, optometrists can play an important role in the prevention, assessment and treatment of concussions; since they are sometimes unavoidable. When you think of vision training, you often think about athletes using it to enhance their skills. However, there could be another use for vision training and that is to protect athletes from serious head injuries. Joe Clark, a neurologist, ran a study over four years and saw a decrease of over 80 percent in concussions for the UC football team by simply putting them through regular vision training. Concussions are a major point of contention in many of today’s sports and with the help of starting vision training early, not only can optometrists help your child’s sports performance, it could help prevent serious injuries and keep them on the field!
Blog contribution by Alexis Romero, Optometry Intern, College of Optometry, Western University of Health Sciences.