COLUMBUS, GA (WTVM) - A recent study in a pediatric journal revealed that middle school girls who play soccer have a 30 percent chance of getting a concussion, a statistic that holds true in the Fountain City.
"In November, we saw almost 40 children in the emergency department here with head injuries," explains Dr. Joseph Zanga with Columbus Regional Medical Center.
All of those injuries caused by blows to the head or concussions in children as young as six years old.
"Especially in female soccer, you see a lot more concussions," says Jeff Battles, Athletic Director at Hardaway High School. "A higher percentage there than in some of the other sports because of the collisions that happen between two players going for the ball. Sometimes, again, falling down onto the ground."
Dr. Zanga says signs of a concussion can often be as subtle as a headache but could carry deadly consequences for these young girls.
"You could die from the first blow to your head or the tenth blow to your head," Dr. Zanga adds. "Or you could live a perfectly normal life if you do the right things after the first time you get a blow to the head and a concussion."
Dr. Zanga teamed up with coaches and doctors around Muscogee County to help young athletes and their families, as he says, do the right thing.
"Give every athlete a test that tests their brain levels before starts," says Coach Battles. "So, now if a child, if an athlete goes out and an accident happens, now we can come in and give them this test again as a post accident test. And see if it's affected the levels that they're testing on that test."
Helping to increase the awareness and hopefully prevent the injuries for coaches, parents and athletes.
Last year, the Georgia High School Association passed the Return to Play Act requiring coaches to pull athletes displaying signs of concussions. Those who suffer head injuries are not allowed to return to the game without clearance from a doctor.