Outside of the Olympics, you don\’t get many chances to watch water polo, so if you\’re tuning in for the first time you might be wondering why the players are wearing headgear. There doesn\’t seem to be a direct benefit, but there are actually many purposes. SAFETY The main purpose for the bonnet-looking caps is safety. If there were no headgear, the players\’ ears would be exposed to high-velocity thrown balls. Even with the caps, there\’s danger for those who play. lists water polo as one of the sports that causes the most hearing damage. If you look closely, you\’ll notice extra protection around the ears on the players\’ caps. Those are ear guards, and they are extremely important. MORE: IDENTIFICATION A somewhat obvious reason, but the caps serve a big purpose in identification. Water polo caps are the caps that players wear to identify which team they\’re on. In most cases, the darker color will be of the home team. ВThe numbers on water polo caps and teams begin at 1, with theВGoalie Cap, and go upwards matching the total number of players on a team. For example, the number 25 is never put on a water polo cap. Because the head is really the only part of the body that consistently stays above water, a cap isВthe best way to demonstrate who is who. MORE: WATER POLO SPEEDOS If you\’re still curious about water polo and want to know why they wear Speedos, or
multiple В Speedos, there is a reason. Water polo is an aggressive sport and players are constantly pulling and grabbing at one another.
So if you wear a Speedo, it gives your opponents less material to grab. However, players will still find a way to pull, and Speedos often tear underwater. So that\’s why you may see some players wearing multiple swimsuits. Over the past several years there has been growing awareness of contact sports and the associated risks of concussions. PBased on my personal experience of watching water polo, combined with my curiosity as a physiologist and role as Director of EMSSI, I was motivated to ask what were the concussion risks in water polo. PSearching the medical literature became frustrating. PAlthough I found epidemiological studies about football, soccer, lacrosse, ice hockey, field hockey, basketball, softball, wrestling and cheerleading, there was no single study on water polo. PPSo last year, along with my colleagues, Drs. Steven Small, Chair, Department of Neurology and Robert Blumenfeld of the Brain Circuits Laboratory, we developed a questionnaire that asked players experiences with head injury in the sport. PWith the help of USA Water Polo, a link to our survey was emailed to all members of USAWP. The epidemiology of sports-related head injury and concussion in Water Polo) http://journal. frontiersin. org/article/10. 3389/fneur. 2016. 00098/full We found that 36% of respondents report sustaining a concussion while playing water polo, with an average of two concussions reported. PAs might be expected, the prevalence and number of concussions reported varied across positions, levels, and gender.
Most strikingly, we found that goalies are at significantly higher risk for concussion and report significantly more concussions. In addition, goalies received more head impacts from balls shot during practice as compared to games. PPIt is important to point out that during our analysis we were curious as to how our results compared to other sports. PUnfortunately, that comparison is not currently possible. PIn our study we report lifetime prevalence, while in other contact sports, concussion risks are often reported as an incident rate (injury rate per hours of exposure ). PSo at this time we cannot make direct comparisons. P As this is the first systematic survey of concussions in water polo, we note several important limitations of our study related to sample size, self-reporting bias, age and memory. POur paper addresses each of these limitations in detail and we conclude that our results more likely reflect the specific risk factors of head injury in water polo, rather than survey bias. PPP Finally, we make several recommendations regarding the sport. POur results speak to the clear need for systematic concussion reporting in water polo. In particular, reporting for individuals at the college level, who have among the highest prevalence of concussion, is especially vital. The NCAA should require a systematic collection of all injury information in water polo (during practice and games), just as they require for other sports.
PSuch reporting systems will ultimately allow comparisons of incident rates to other sports. Second, our data strongly suggests that goalies are at a disproportionate risk for concussion and head injury compared to other positions. Given that goalies report that most of their head impacts occur during practice, we recommend that goalies wear head protection during practice, regardless of level (age group club, high school, NCAA). Where do we go next? PIn cooperation with UCIs Department of Intercollegiate Athletics, we will begin using small 3D-accelerometers ( https://www. triaxtec. com ) to measure, in real time, head impact forces during actual game play in our UCI mens and womens team this coming year. Such data may be used to drive re-evaluations of rules or help design future equipment and can ultimately provide important information regarding player management. PPPIn addition, we are partnering with UCIs School of Medicine to develop cutting-edge diagnostic and assessment protocols for traumatic brain injury that can be used in all of our student-athletes. Our team at UCI is comprised of scientists and physicians, and all of us are sports fans. PWe understand that concussion can never be eliminated, as all activities have inherent risks. Our goal is simple; to learn as much as we can about the game, provide insights into risks, and to ultimately apply our knowledge to provide the best advances in sports neurology to athletes.