Clash of Craniums

Increased concern about brain trauma in youth sports puts soccer at a confounding crossroads. As athletes, parents and coaches look to limit head contact from their games, soccer enthusiasts are debating headers. They’re a dramatic part of play. But are they necessary?

Is there a ‘safe’ header?

Rest, training and prevention are key to keeping young athletes healthy. And because evidence suggests that young soccer players are more likely to suffer concussions on head-to-ball contact that they’re not prepared for, training for aerial play is important. U.S. Youth Soccer doesn’t allow players younger than 10 to deliberately head the ball in its leagues. It also strongly encourages leagues that combine players age 11 and 12 to consider restricting deliberate headers. Those precautions are reasonable, said Jim Chesnutt, co-director of the Oregon Concussion Awareness and Management Program.

The Concussion Gap: Head injuries in girls soccer are an ‘unpublicized epidemic’

National research has found girls are more likely to suffer a concussion than boys in any sport. And research in 2017 found concussion rates among young female soccer players were nearly as high as concussion rates for boys playing football — and roughly triple the rate of concussions in boys’ soccer. “In a lot of ways, it’s a growing epidemic for young girls that I think has gone unpublicized,” said Jim Chesnutt, a medical expert on sports concussion. InvestigateWest and Pamplin media group crunched the numbers in Oregon.

Supreme Court ruling bolsters abused foster kids’ lawsuits against state

In what may prove a watershed moment for the state’s foster care system, Washington’s Supreme Court found the state has a broad duty to protect foster children from abuse. The decision in favor of five young women who were sexually, physically and psychologically abused provides a stronger legal footing for other foster children suing the state, which already has paid out hundreds of millions of dollar in similar abuse cases.

Closing the gaps in concussion law

Morgan Brunner, 13, received a concussion when hit by a stray ball during warm-up for a game of futsal. Thanks to Jenna’s Law, parents and coaches had received information about proper care and concussion protocols. Despite these success stories, there are still grey areas this law doesn’t cover, lawmakers say.

Foster kids kept by state in hotels at record rate

Abused and neglected kids in Washington State’s overwhelmed foster care system were housed at hotels and state offices at a higher rate than ever over the last year, new figures show — a practice that costs taxpayers millions. The state reports spending more than $2,100 nightly for each hotel stay, on average.

Seattle tree-protection proposal could be backward step, tree advocates say

When Seattle City Council member Rob Johnson set out to pass a long-stalled strengthening of Seattle’s tree-protection ordinance, fans of the urban forest called it wonderful news. They said his move last fall was far overdue considering how Seattle’s development boom is reducing the leafy canopy that gave “The Emerald City” its nickname. But when Johnson aides recently released their third suggestion this year for how to update the city law, the pro-trees people said that despite Johnson’s claims to the contrary, the changes would be unlikely to save more trees. In addition, they say, Johnson’s proposal appears to remove important existing protections for big trees, which studies show shade and cool streets while helping neutralize air and water pollution and reduce residents’ stress levels while improving cardiovascular health. “This is going backwards.

As foster care crisis festers, kin who care for neglected kids receive little state support

Kinship caregivers such as grandparents, aunts, uncles and close family care for an estimated 43,000 children in Washington State. Without kinship care, these children would enter the already stretched thin Washington state foster care system. But although these kinship caregivers tend to be older, poorer and in worse health than foster parent counterparts, they receive comparatively little financial support from the state.