​Heightened concern for concussions in women's soccer

WINNEPEG -- Violent collisions and blows to the head have created what many consider a "silent epidemic" of concussions in women's soccer. U.S. defender Becky Sauerbrunn says FIFA put players on notice.

We had a meeting with them yesterday and they were very adamant about what they would call: yellow cards, red cards, things like that just to protect us."

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Briana Scurry
CBS News

Briana Scurry led America to the World Cup title back in 1999, but a knee to the head 5 years ago ended her career -- and left her suffering from debilitating depression and anxiety.

"It was a very dark time for me," said Scurry. "Days would go by, weeks would go by, months would go by and it wasn't getting better."

Neurologist James Noble says concussion research remains woefully inadequate, especially for women. He says the short term and long term risks of a concussion are still unclear.

A big problem, he says, is no two concussions are alike.

"It really confounds the whole matter of trying to identify concussion in an objective, highly accurate way," said Noble.

Two years ago when U.S. forward Abby Wambach was hit in the head by a kicked ball, a referee actually waved off the team trainer who wanted to check her out.

"Any sort of head, concussion issues, it's a big deal," said Wambach. "We want to make sure everybody leaves the game in as a good a condition as they came to it."

Briana Scurry's concussion caused severe nerve damage that could only be repaired with a risky surgery. She emerged healthier and wiser.

"When you see a kid get hit in the head or their head bounces off the ground, or something, a jolt, take a minute," advised Curry. "Go in there check on that kid and see if they're okay."

FIFA has since changed its rules to allow referees to stop a game for up to three minutes so team doctors can check for a suspected concussion. But some health officials have questioned whether three minutes is enough time.