Concussions and Gender: Who’s at Risk?


ORLANDO, Fla. (Ivanhoe Newswire) — Every year about 300,000 young athletes suffer a concussion. A new report in the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons shows exactly which sports put young athletes at risk.

Female sports that are typically considered safe topped the list over football.

Hali Jester knows what it’s like to push beyond her limits.

“After my second concussion is when I started to getting these awful migraines, and these awful neck pains.” Hali told Ivanhoe.

New research shows that young, female athletes are 12 percent more likely to get a concussion than boys. Researchers say that may be because girls are pushing themselves harder than ever, they are more likely to report a concussion, and girls have longer necks that aren’t as developed as boys.

Kathleen Bell, M.D., Director of the Concussion Clinic at UT Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas, TX said “Often women don’t have the same muscle protection to control head movement that men do.”

When researchers studied high school sports data that included more than six-thousand concussions they found that girls’ soccer topped the concussion list followed by girls’ volleyball and basketball. Football came in fourth.

Researchers think the jump in concussion rates for female soccer players is due to a lack of protective headgear and an increased emphasis on “heading” the ball.

Researchers hope this study leads to changes in policy and that more measures will be taken to protect young athletes. Already, the enforcement of stricter laws on traumatic brain injuries has brought more awareness to the issue.

Contributors to this news report include: Jessica Sanchez, Producer; Roque Correa, Editor.

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REPORT #2438

BACKGROUND:  A concussion is a type of brain injury that is caused by a blow to the head or body and shakes the brain. Even if there are no signs of cuts and bruises on the face, there might be no other signs of a brain injury. Some might lose consciousness while others may not even pass out. Consequently, it is hard to detect whether one has a concussion or not due to the symptoms and signs varying from each individual. In rare cases, concussions may cause severe problems, and repeated concussions can lead to long-lasting problems with movement, speaking, or learning. The causes of a concussion could be from fights, falls, car crashes, and heavy sport contact such as football and hockey. A concussion is a result of the brain crashing into the skull, because the spinal fluid to cushion the brain has been interrupted. This may result in nausea and vomiting, headaches, dizziness, balance problems, and tiredness. It can also affect one’s thinking and memory. Some individuals can experience feeling slowed down, not being able to concentrate, and not being able to remember new information. Some people feel normal in a few hours, while others take weeks or months to recover. A person who gets a concussion during a sport must stop any activity immediately.


THE STUDY: Teenage girls playing sports are reported to have more concussions than boys in sports. The theories to support that statement stem from the fact that girls usually have smaller and more slender necks, causing the head to wobble more. This raises a risk for a concussion and more severe symptoms. Another theory is that female athletes report more concussions than male athletes. Girls also take longer to recover from a concussion based on the suggestion that the women’s greater rate of blood flow in the brain compared to men’s may somehow make the symptoms worse and last longer. The sport that leads to the most concussions in girls is soccer, followed by basketball. Cheerleading can even lead to gymnastic routines such as flips and tumbles. Lacrosse is another sport where high school girls are starting to wear helmets currently only mandated in Florida that cut the risk for skull fractures and bleeding in the brain.


NEW REGULATIONS: Organizations such as FIFA are raising awareness for concussions among youth athletes. The organization has made a change of rules allowing a red card to be thrown if there is a case of elbowing to the head.  In addition, one solution to prevent concussions from sports like soccer is protective headgear. One student began wearing protective headgear after suffering from a concussion, and since then has not suffered another concussion.  However, not everyone is on board with the use of headgear protection as it was thought to protect from injuries caused during intentional heading of the ball, which has proved to be the least common cause of soccer concussions. However, there has been more evidence that headgear decreases soccer concussions.  In a study of soccer players age 12-17, 52.8 percent of athletes who did not wear headgear suffered concussions, while the rate dropped to 26.9 percent for those athletes that did wear the headgear. There is now evidence that shows that while intentionally heading of a soccer ball may not cause a concussion, the repetition of heading a ball may lead to concussion-like damage of brain cells


* For More Information, Contact:

Gregg Shields

(214) 648-9354