Doctors who treat sport injuries are sounding the alarm about concussions among female soccer players, saying they're at a higher risk than most athletes when it comes to suffering head injuries.
The notorious hit on Canada's hockey star on Sidney Crosby in 2011 sparked a national conversation about head injuries in hockey, but new research shows head injuries aren't just affecting professionals on the ice.
Megan Willox plays soccer for Dalhousie University in Halifax and suffered a concussion last year after colliding with another player.
"I still have hard time doing school. I still get headaches, I'm still sensitive to light and noise and still pretty fatigued,” she said.
The third-year commerce student practised with the Dal Tigers this year, but wasn't strong enough to compete.
"I'm trying to get through university right now and it's definitely making that tougher than it should be and lasting effects. I don't want to have to deal with this for the rest of my life,” said Willox.
Neither do her teammates, several of whom have suffered concussions just like hers.
“This season alone we had three and every season we usually have at least one or two,” said Willox.
But Dr. Sonja McVeigh, a sport consultant in Nova Scotia, said that number is probably lower than reality.
She said varsity athletes often downplay their symptoms in order to keep playing.
"I think with soccer particularly with heading, we know that heading is a significant risk factor for a concussion. There is a trend also with the literature that females are at more risk of having a concussion with less of a force," she said.
Heading changes could be coming
During the winter months soccer moves indoors, making the sport potentially more dangerous.
Thursday was Jackie Van Amburg's first day back on the job after she suffered a severe concussion a month ago playing indoor soccer in a recreational league.
"It's been about a month and I'm still suffering some symptoms. I'm still dizzy, I still have very poor balance and sometimes it's very hard to concentrate,” she said.
The Canadian Academy of Sport and Exercise Medicine is mulling over some changes. It's suggesting no heading for younger players. It’s also considering the use of protective head gear in soccer.
A concussion is a traumatic brain injury that results from a blow to the head. Symptoms include headache, confusion, memory loss, dizziness and nausea or vomiting.
With repeated concussions, the brain can be permanently damaged