Concussion Symptoms Differ By Gender

Sport-related concussion symptoms differ among high school male and female athletes, according to a study that will be published in next month's issue of the Journal of Athletic Training, a publication of the National Athletic Trainers' Association.

According to the study, titled "Sex Differences in Concussion Symptoms of High School Athletes," males report more cognitive symptoms after a concussion, while females report more neurobehavioral and physical symptoms. Despite the symptomatic differences, the report suggests that the time needed for recuperation before returning to play does not differ by gender.

The study points out that males continue to participate in sports at a higher rate than females, though female are more likely than males to suffer concussions. "As more girls and young women participate in rough-and-tumble sports, understanding possible differences in concussion symptoms between the two genders has become increasingly important," says Dawn Comstock, an associate professor at the Ohio State University College of Medicine and the study's author.

Comstock says an estimated 1.6 million to 3.8 million sport-related concussions are sustained every year, with an average of 21 percent of those occurring among high school athletes. The inherent trouble with studying the incidence and symptoms of concussions is that diagnosis remains difficult. "No biological markers exist to detect concussion, so diagnosis largely depends on a patient's own report," says Comstock. "Diagnosing concussion is further complicated by the tendency of many athletes to under-report or hide symptoms from their doctors, athletic trainers, coaches and parents."

The study found no difference in the number of concussion symptoms reported by gender, but, for example, males more frequently reported amnesia and confusion or disorientation, while females more frequently reported drowsiness and a greater sensitivity to noise.

Results of the study were released at the NATA's second legislation and provide a call to action regarding medical care, equipment safety and increased research into youth sports safety.

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