My 12-year old daughter is a very good soccer player. She manages to hit the ball with her head frequently during practices and games. I'm worried about head injury and concussions. How likely is this?

Head injuries in soccer are common. These include collisions with goal posts, head butting or heading between two or more players, and blows to the head. Illegal high kicking and/or low heading account for many injuries.

Concussions are more likely among girls and women than among boys and men. Head butting the ball increases the risk of concussion. There are reports that head injuries add up to 22 percent of all soccer-related injuries. Severe head trauma or death is rare. The extent of other injuries is less clear.

Some parents want protection for their children from head contact with goal posts, the ground, and other players' heads, elbows, and knees. Protective head gear and a mouth guard are suggested. Using a softer ball during practices is another good option. Talk to your daughter's soccer coach about your concerns. Sometimes it's up to parents to do what's best for the players.