BISMARCK, N.D. - The popularity of soccer has grown over the last few years to over three million registered players. This is due in part to the success of the US men's and women's soccer teams.
A new study recently released found that with the increase in the number of players there has been a rise in the number and rate of brain injuries.
the study conducted by the Nationwide Children's Hospital in Columbus, Ohio found the rate of concussions in soccer increased 1596 percent over the 25-year period of the study.
Zachary Bares is a junior at Century High school and has played soccer all his life. Over his time playing he has sustained a number of concussions.
"I got kicked and fell backwards on the back of my head, and I guess I was dizzy throughout the game. But I thought I was just dehydrated and not feeling very well," said Bares.
A concussion is caused by a hit to the head or body that causes the head and brain to move rapidly back and forth and hit the skull. Minor brain injuries are becoming more prevalent in high school sports.
"I probably deal with a concussion on average once a week they're very common in sports," said Dean Chumley, Sanford Health head athletic trainer.
Protocol in high school sports allows the referee to stop the game at any time and call a trainer on to look at an athlete.
"I need to keep my eyes on the athlete. See if they're stumbling around, that's a red flag. See if they're dizzy, that's a red flag. If there's the out in left field look that pretty much gives me a good indicator that something is going on inside of their head," said Chumley.
Zachary now wears a helmet to protect his head while he plays.
"My coaches talked to me and they decided that it would be best for me to wear a helmet and its best for me because it'll protect you when you're playing the game," said Bares.
Chumley and Bares both say that any athletes who feel like they have a concussion should get checked out immediately rather than risking their long term health.
In an attempt to lower concussion rates the United States Soccer Federation has banned kids 10 and under from heading the ball.