Studies Suggest That There is a Higher Concussion Risk to Girls and Women
Concussions, which are defined as any injuries to the brain that disturb its normal functioning, continue to make the headlines, but not enough is being said or done about concussions and females.
According to several studies, there are gender differences:
- Girls have twice the likelihood of suffering long-term concussion symptoms.
- Girls reported more severe symptoms and took longer to recover (nearly 22 more days) than boys, as girls took 56 days on average to be symptom-free.
- The highest rate of concussions was reported by girl and women ice hockey players.
- Female softball players experienced concussions twice as often as male baseball players.
In general boys and girls reported the same symptoms (sensitivity to light and sound, headache, dizziness, and trouble concentrating); however, the severity was greater and the duration was longer for girls.
According to the CDC…
Concussions and Females – How Can We Protect Girls and Women
Some sports officials and schools have taken action by enforcing rules to protect female players:
- Hockey and lacrosse leagues have placed limits on body checking banned checking to the head and neck area.
- Other sports, like girls’ soccer, have enforced stricter rules to prevent dangerous play. Some schools have instituted the elimination of heading (explained below) for girls below age 14 because their neck muscles are not fully developed until that age.
There is a significant difference in females compared to males when measuring head-neck strength. Additionally, there some evidence that the brains of female athletes react differently to injury or may be more susceptible.
It is important to note that better science is needed to conclude that girls and women suffer more severe and more lasting symptoms than males. There is very little research on why girls and women are more susceptible to concussions.
Perhaps, more female role models need to share their stories and pressure schools to make sports safer for girls and women, because we need to better understand the relationship between concussions and females so that we protect girls and women from brain injuries.