PHILADELPHIA (AP) — Cindy Parlow Cone's first major concussion came in 2001 after a collision with a teammate left her out cold before she hit the ground. She regained consciousness, got up and continued to play but, more than a decade later, the 36-year-old Parlow Cone still deals with the symptoms of what she estimates were dozens of concussions she suffered through during her career.
The former professional soccer player offered her story Friday as a warning during a medical symposium in Philadelphia of the after-effects of concussions and the consequences they've had on her since her retirement.
The two-day seminar held by U.S. Soccer and Major League Soccer during a coaches' association conference focused on player health and safety. Friday's session highlighted concussion identification and prevention.
Parlow Cone told her audience of about 50 people that concussions transformed her from a player consumed by soccer to someone who didn't want to be on the field.
"I went from a kid that just loved training, loved everything about soccer ... to someone who kind of went into a shell and basically went to sleep every chance I had," Parlow Cone said.
In the decade since her injuries, awareness and education have drastically improved and translated into stricter protocols for concussions in soccer, experts said Friday. Players are now encouraged to step back before playing through a possible concussion, said Dr. Ruben Echemendia, a U.S. Soccer and Major League Soccer neuropsychologist.
But while awareness has grown, a lack of data has impeded research. Echemendia called for a national reporting database for injuries in the sport.
"Getting the numbers at the youth level is really complicated because we just don't have them, so we don't really understand how often this is happening," said Echemendia. "The vast majority of kids who have concussions never see a medical professional."