Nightly News | May 09, 2012
BRIAN WILLIAMS, anchor: There has been a lot of attention recently focused on concussions, but most of it regarding pro athletes, NFL players. Tonight we are shedding new light on a much more common pursuit for millions of American kids and their parents. This is about girls soccer in this country because it turns out they are second only to football players in terms of reported concussions. NBC 's Kate Snow has done some exhaustive reporting on this subject for tonight's "Rock Center." She found some girls in suburban Philadelphia with a remarkable story to tell.
KATE SNOW reporting: There's a steep price to going all out for this generation of girl warrior athletes. How many of you have had a concussion? How many of you have had more than one concussion? How many of you have played through a concussion? You had a concussion and you just kept going? One group of friends, more than a dozen concussions.
Dr. BOB CANTU: People who think of concussions as own being present mostly in guys and mostly in the sport of football are just plain wrong. Soccer is right at the top of the list for the girls .
SNOW: Dr. Bob Cantu , a leading researcher, says girls are reporting nearly twice as many concussions as boys in the sports they both play.
Dr. CANTU: Girls as a group have far weaker necks. The same force delivered to a girl's head spins the head much more because of the weak neck than it does to the guys.
SNOW: Of the six girls we met, three have had such bad brain injuries they had to give up the sport they love.
Ms. KIMMIE ZEFFERT (Former Soccer Player): I look fine. Like, if you looked at me right now, do I look like I'm sick? Does it look like I have a headache? It may not look like it, but I really do. I have a headache 24/7.
SNOW: Allison Kasacavage 's first major concussion was more than three years ago. We interviewed Allison in her bedroom, lit only by soft blue light which reduces her nearly constant headaches.
Ms. ALLISON KASACAVAGE: It's like a break, it's visible, but it's almost like I need a sign on my back saying my head is broken. I mean, you can say you understand, but it's like you don't. I'm sorry, you don't.
SNOW: Provocative new research suggests some body types may be more at risk than others.
Dr. CANTU: We believe that individuals with very long, thin necks may be at greater risk.
SNOW: This is going to make a lot of parents look at their daughters.
Dr. CANTU: Kate , I would hope it would not only make parents look at their daughters but make everyone of those parents insist their daughters are on a neck strengthening program if they're playing a collision sport .
SNOW: One of the other big lessons here for parents, most of these girls said they played through their injuries. And when they do that, they're risking serious long-term effects. Every doctor we spoke with said that if you have any suspicion, Brian , that a player may have just had a concussion, take them out of the game.
WILLIAMS: And you're right, Kate . This is going to make a lot of parents look at their daughters, and that's a good thing. We hope you can join us tonight to see Kate 's full reporting on this subject, especially if there's a girl soccer player in your family. That's tonight, "Rock Center" at 9, 8 Central . Kate Snow , thanks. Up next,