Junior 研究es Attitudes Toward Concussion Incidence and Headgear in Women’s Lacrosse

Shivani艾耶说23 interviewed 教练, 球员, researchers and others to better understand the perspectives and experiences surrounding head injury and protection in the sport.

By: 梅根·基塔  Tuesday, September 14, 2021 10:57 AM

Shivani艾耶说23. Photo by Joe Romano ’23

新闻-watchers know Florida as a state where mandating certain public health protections (masks, vaccine passports) has been prohibited. 但在2015年, in the world of women’s lacrosse, Florida became known as the only state to mandate protective headgear for high-school 球员. The Florida High School Athletic Association’s decision polarized athletes and 教练, says Shivani艾耶说23. She has been conducting research on attitudes toward protective headgear and its influence on concussion prevention in women’s lacrosse—and, 更广泛地说, on how gender norms and other social factors affect public health interventions—since this spring.

“I did not play a sport in high school. I’m the least athletic person. I had the mindset, ‘Why aren’t they wearing helmets?’ It feels so obvious,”她说. “After doing this research, 我意识到, even if I might feel like a helmet is a great form of protection, there's so much more nuance involved in this conversation.”

艾耶, predental 生物学 主要和 Dana学者, realized her interest in public health after taking a course with Assistant Professor of 公共卫生 Kathleen Bachynski last fall. At the end of the semester, she asked Bachynski about research opportunities. Bachynski, who studies sports-related brain injuries from a public health perspective, mentioned wanting to explore the issue of protective headgear in women’s lacrosse, 哪一个, 艾耶学, has a different set of rules from men’s lacrosse. The men’s game allows full-body checking, 她解释说, while the women’s game allows only stick-to-stick contact.

然而, the women’s game has evolved—the rules have changed to make it less stop-and-go and more enjoyable for 球员 and viewers, 哪一个 makes it more difficult for refs to catch and card illegal contact. The game’s increasingly fast-paced nature, as well as the dangers presented by sticks and balls, means head injuries can and do happen. 

Iyer spent the spring semester researching the context surrounding the protective headgear debate and its relation to the incidence of concussions in the sport via news articles and existing published research. 她了解到,, 在1980年代, Massachusetts required high school girls’ lacrosse 球员 to wear hockey helmets, 哪一个, 教练 and 球员 claimed, led to a more dangerous style of play.

“It’s called the Gladiator Effect, this idea that if you put a helmet onto a player, the 球员 are naturally going to play rougher, 正因为如此, there’s going to be increased risk,艾耶说. “This isn’t a proven notion, but it’s very commonly argued in this sport.”

She continued her inquiry this summer by interviewing about 20 researchers, 教练, members of various governing bodies, headgear manufacturers and 球员 she’d found during her spring literature review. The experience gave her a better understanding of the complexity of the discussion surrounding the headgear (a term that’s used because “helmet” implies a product similar to what men’s lacrosse 球员 wear) specifically designed for women’s lacrosse 球员.

“I interviewed some really great people from Massachusetts, some former 教练 who worked 在1980年代 when the hockey helmets were implemented,艾耶说. “A common argument as a reason not to implement the headgear is about maintaining the integrity of the girls’ game. They mentioned the fact that girls’ lacrosse was one of the first games to be purely a girls’ game. Their perspective is, even with the current rule changes, the game they coached in the ’80s isn’t the game played now. Putting headgear on top of it could completely change it.”

今年秋天, she and Bachynski will analyze the interviews to identify trends in the perspectives and attitudes shaping the debate. Iyer’s ultimate goal is to present her findings.

“A lot of the existing research is looking at the number of concussions and contacts or how effective the headgear is, not what conversations are being had,”她说. “If we don’t understand the different arguments and emotions associated with headgear, it’ll be really hard to implement headgear on a widespread level.”