A first-of-its-kind survey has confirmed what some water polo players — especially goalies — have long suspected: Concussions seem to be prevalent in the sport.

More than a third of water polo participants reported sustaining a concussion either during games or in practice, according to a poll conducted by University of California, Irvine researchers.

Study leaders said the findings represent a necessary and important initial step toward understanding the prevalence of concussions in water polo and point to the need for increased player safety. While the sport features a high degree of physicality and aggressive play, epidemiological data on the incidence of head trauma have not been gathered or made public until now. Results appear online in Frontiers in Neurology.

In recent years, there has been growing awareness of the risks of head injury in athletics, and understanding the nature and prevalence of sports-related concussion is a major focus of both clinical and basic research. In 2012, the NCAA began tracking water polo concussions, but only a handful of teams supply data, and the results haven’t been made public.

To read more of the study go to Robert S. Blumenfeld, Jessica C. Winsell, James W. Hicks, Steven L. Small. The Epidemiology of Sports-Related Head Injury and Concussion in Water Polo. Frontiers in Neurology, 2016; 7 DOI: 10.3389/fneur.2016.00098