Does headgear in girls’ lacrosse help, or hurt the player?
As you may know, I am an avid lacrosse player, as well as fan, having played for years at Duke. Recently, there has been a bit of controversy surrounding girl’s lacrosse, and whether or not headgear is necessary. As a surgeon, I am very much behind trying to prevent head injuries at all costs, but the question with girls’ lacrosse is, does headgear actually help prevent injuries, or could it potentially cause more damage?
The New York Times published this article about the conflicting evidence of headgear in girl’s lacrosse. Lacrosse has already adopted protective eyewear for girls to prevent catastrophic eye and nose injuries. The goggles have been successful in preventing those issues.
People are also concerned about concussions in girls’ lacrosse. As much as people feel that adding headgear will help to prevent concussions, it still has not been proven to do so, although it does reduce head trauma caused by stick-to-head or ball-to-head contact.
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The girls’ lacrosse game does have different rules than the boys’ game in terms of allowing contact between the players and with the stick, so the concern is that mandatory headgear is unnecessary. There is also some concern that headgear may encourage more aggressive play as it gives the appearance that the girls are safer. Headgear also limits the players’ peripheral vision, which could potentially lead to more injuries. The new headgear does appear to leave appropriate visibility for the players, but until it has been tested out on the field, we don’t really know if it will be effective. As of right now the headgear is optional, so we have plenty of time to try it out and see if it works for our girls.
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