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Concussions Hit Girls Harder, Study Reports

Update Date: Apr 11, 2014 03:32 PM EDT

When researchers study the effects of concussions, they often focus on male athletes since they participate in high contact and high impact sports, such as football. Due to the focus on male players, treatment plans for concussions might not be as effective for female players. In a new study, researchers found that concussions hit girls a lot harder than boys. However, the symptoms are generally the same.

"There have been several studies suggesting there are differences between boys and girls as far as [concussion] symptom reporting and the duration of symptoms," Dr. Shayne Fehr, a pediatric sports medicine specialist at Children's Hospital of Wisconsin, said reported by Medical Xpress.

In order to examine these potential differences, Fehr monitored 549 patients who received medical care from a pediatric concussion clinic from early 2010 through to mid-2012. 235 of the patients were girls and all of the patients were between the ages of 10 and 18. Fehr compared the symptoms and length of symptoms between the boys and girls. He found that girls tended to have more severe symptoms.

In addition, girls reported that it took an average of 56 days before they were symptom-free. For boys, the average number of recovery days was 34 days. This meant that girls need an extra 22 more days to recover. The majority of the injuries, at 76 percent, were caused by sports-related injuries. 22 percent of the injuries were concussions caused specifically by football. The top five symptoms were headache, concentration problems, sensitivity to light and to sound, and dizziness. The symptoms for both gender groups were the same, and therefore, Fehr stated that treatment plans do not have to be different for girls. However, doctors should be aware that symptoms might persist longer in girls than in boys.

The findings will be presented at the annual meeting of the American Medical Society for Sports Medicine located in New Orleans, LA.

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