The difference between male and females has been known for a little while as the females tend to show more cognitive issues and in research have shown to be slower at recovering. Also known but for some reason discounted is the age aspect; it would be logical to expect a developing brain to struggle more with brain trauma. Reuters wrote up an article about the recent research;
Female and high school athletes may need more time to recover from a concussion than their male or college counterparts, according to a U.S. study that comes amid rising concern about concussions in young athletes.
Researchers, whose report appeared in the American Journal of Sports medicine, found that of 222 young athletes who suffered a concussion, female athletes tended to have more symptoms than males. They also scored lower on tests of “visual memory” – the ability to recall information about something they’d seen.
Meanwhile, high school athletes fared worse on memory tests than college players, and typically took longer to improve.
For parents, coaches and athletes, the key message is to have patience with concussion recovery, said lead researcher Tracey Covassin, an assistant professor at Michigan State University in East Lansing.
Research like this will now begin to be shown to the world, as the research and money has ramped up over the past 3-4 years making longevity and high volume studies available. The simple moral of the story is; take plenty of time to recover before returning. One or two games is better than a semester or year.
When most people think about concussions they only allow one sport to enter their mind: football. As we have documented numerous times before, football is just one of the many athletic activities that put athletes at risk for sustaining a concussion. Much of the general public thinks that the male athletes are the only ones suffering concussions, though that is not the case whatsoever; females are just as susceptible. According to Dr. Comstock, of the Ohio State University College of Medicine, girls suffer concussions at a higher rate than males.
One specific activity has been shown to have a significant rate of injury in females (and what most people will be surprised to learn) is cheerleading.
The question as to whether cheerleading qualifies to be recognized as a sport continues to be debated, but from my perspective (and what others should consider) it does not matter. The athletes involved in cheerleading should be provided the same health care that other athletes are provided with; they should be treated the same. There is no doubt in my mind that these girls (and boys) perform very intricate techniques and are at serious risk of injury.
New Jersey has recently passed a law requiring schools to implement a head injury safety training program which must be completed by the school physician, an athletic trainer, and all of the coaches involved. The issue is that cheerleading is not considered a sport by NJSIAA or the NFHS. For this reason, cheerleading coaches are not required to complete this training program. Schools must make sure that these coaches are included, for it is important for them to recognize the dangers and risks of concussions with regards to their individual sport.
Patrick Diegan, an assemblyman who played a role in the legislation, stated… Continue reading
Here is a brief overview of the article out of the newest Journal of Athletic Training. I suggest you take a chance to read the entire article. It’s free to NATA members!
Frommer LJ, Gurka KK, Cross KM, Ingersoll CD, Comstock RD, Saliba SA. Journal of Athletic Training. Sex Differences in Concussion Symptoms of High School Athletes. 2011; 46(1):76-84.
An estimated 1.6-3.8 million sport-related concussions are reported each year with about 21% of those being high school athletes. The occurrence of injury in female athletes has continued to rise with the increase in sports participation and females have a higher incidence rate than males of sport-related concussions.
Research has shown that females may respond to concussions differently than males. Females tended to fare worse than male counterparts leading to longer hospitalizations, longer disability, and higher mortality rates. Females also require greater monitoring and more aggressive treatment due to symptoms not aligning with Glascow Coma Scale.
Hormones are believed to be a factor in the response to head trauma. Females tended to be more cognitively impaired after a sport-related concussion.
Males tended to report amnesia and confusion as a primary symptom more often than females. Females reported drowsiness and sensitivity to noise more often than males.
Males often returned to play 7-9 days post-injury while females had a greater percentage returning 3-6 days after a concussion.
This data is representative of what is actually taking place in the high school setting rather than in a research lab.
The outcomes of this study show there is little difference in severity of concussions between the two sexes, but it appears they present with different types of symptoms. Males reported more cognitive symptoms while females reported more neurobehavioral and somatic symptoms.