Research of the Week: Sex Differences in Concussions

August 27, 2011

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.

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