Head injuries are keeping women out of the game

As if the prevalence of ACL injuries wasn’t enough, check out this thought-provoking piece about UCLA’s Lauren Holiday, who’s had six head injuries in her two years as a Bruin:

Holiday thinks she has suffered at least six head injuries. Her coach and a member of the UCLA sports information staff, sitting nearby, help fill in some of the blanks.

She sustained her two most recent concussions late last year, including a season-ending injury against crosstown rival USC in December. Knocked off balance by a screen, she was kneed in the head by an opposing player as she fell toward the floor.

Almost immediately, Holiday says, she saw a flash of red lights and knew it was bad. She had seen those lights for the first time about 13 months earlier, the result of another collision.

After that, she had persevered through a long, hard journey back to competition. Yet there she was once more, a crumpled heap on the floor.

She knew right away she was in for a setback, but didn’t realize that she once again would be sidelined indefinitely.

Holiday’s college career is an embodiment of statistics that don’t get much publicity. Sports concussions and their damaging effects have been in the news in recent years, but often the attention has been focused on football. Their impact in women’s sports hasn’t generated nearly as many headlines.

Women who play basketball and soccer at the high school and college levels are far more likely to sustain a concussion than their male counterparts, according to a 2013 study by the American Academy of Neurology. In high school basketball, they are more than five times as likely — .60 in 1,000 games compared to .11 for males. In college, the ratio is nearly two to one.

Studies have also shown that each concussion increases the risk of another, and multiple injuries increase the risk of prolonged symptoms.