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Study: Soccer's increased U.S. popularity linked to more youth injuries

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COLUMBUS, Ohio -

About three million kids and teens play soccer in the U.S. Now new research shows as the sport is becoming more popular, more children are getting hurt on the field.

As a soccer goalie, 15 year-old Josh Zweydorff has taken big hits protecting the net.

"He apparently kneed me in the head and I don't think I ever passed out, but I don't really remember much," Zweydorff said.

He suffered a concussion last year. A new study  from Nationwide Children's Hospital shows the number of soccer injuries is rising.  Researchers looked at 25 years of data and found about 330 children are treated in the ER each day for  sprains,  strains and fractures. The number of concussions also skyrocketed.

"We're seeing 24 concussions a day treated in hospital emergency rooms," said Tracy Mehan, a researcher on the study.

Researchers say reasons behind the injury increase include more awareness, new athletes learning the sport and kids playing year round at high intensity.
But there are ways to prevent getting hurt. "Make sure they're participating in pre-season conditioning programs that have exercises to build their core strength, their neck muscles, and thigh and hip muscles," Mehan said. "Make sure they're learning about concussions, so they know the signs and symptoms."

Zweydorff sat out for a few weeks but says it probably should have been for longer.  "I just wanted to come back to the game, so I faked my last test a little," he said. "I know for people who are having concussions right now and in the future -- don't do that."

And he is back on the sidelines again, after dislocating his shoulder. 

Earlier this year, the U.S. Soccer organization banned kids 10 and under from hitting the ball with their heads.

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