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Female Athletes and Concussions

An interesting story appears in this weeks ESPN Magazine discussing the differences in the rate and reporting of concussions in female athletes as compared to male athletes.

Here are some excerpts from the article:

In sports played by both women and men, women sustain more concussions. The girls' concussion rate in high school soccer is 68% higher than for boys. And it's nearly triple the boys' rate in high school basketball, according to research by scientists at Ohio State, Nationwide Children's Hospital in Columbus, Ohio, and the NCAA. Other studies reveal similar differences between softball and baseball, in college sports as well as high school. Yet researchers, including Brooks, find that female athletes get less information than males about concussions from all sources, including coaches, trainers and the media. Generally, women athletes don't consider concussions a serious phenomenon.

There are theories, though. In addition to receiving different levels of education about concussions, women and men have different hormones protecting their brains and different levels of neck strength. They also have different styles of play, and none of the return-to-play guidelines used by teams to evaluate injured athletes take gender into account. Research shows that doctors and trainers don't conduct follow-up exams with female athletes as quickly as they do with males, either. Adding to the confusion, young women frequently get menstrual headaches -- migraines, even -- as hormones flood their changing bodies, making it all too easy to dismiss concussion symptoms.

Read the full ESPN concussion article.



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