Concussions More Likely in Female Athletes
We’ve all been–or at least know–some amazing female athletes. We’ve all been inundated with increasing awareness about concussions related to sports like football, the associated lifetime risks to athletes from concussions, and the importance of preventing recurrent concussions in the men and boys we love.
Findings from a new study indicate that women are at high risk to suffer from concussions during athletic careers. Despite the media focus on concussions in male athletes and football, these findings indicate that females may actually be at higher risk than males. Concussions are head injuries that occur frequently in contact sports when athletes collide with each other or the ground.
The preliminary study followed over a thousand athletes over the course of four years, 400 of which were women. The athletes all played sports thought to increase risk for concussions. Male athletes participated in football, wrestling, basketball and soccer. Female athletes participated in field hockey, soccer, basketball, softball and lacrosse.
Throughout the course of the study, 23 percent of the female athletes and 17 percent of the male athletes experienced at least one concussion, which equates to a nearly 50 percent increase in incidence in female athletes.
Concussion symptoms are similar among genders, but men are more likely to experience forgetfulness and women more likely to experience insomnia. Recovery time was shown to be comparable in men and women at an average of two weeks.
The incidence of concussions is more than twice as frequent as it was ten years ago, and is especially increasing in young people. It is not clear whether the increase is due to increased injury or awareness. Further studies could track time spent on the playing field to remove that as a confounding variable.
The cause of the gender gap is not yet clear, but possible reasons include body differences between genders. More research is needed to make definitive claims but it is clear that concussions are not just a football or male injury.
Make sure your loved ones, girls and boys, are on teams that are aware of the symptoms of a concussion and when to pull people out of a game/event for their own future well-being.
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