Could Concussions Deliver a Harder Hit to Girls?

Premier Health Now

Twenty-eight days after sustaining a concussion, half of young female athletes still complained of symptoms. Yet that number dropped to just 11 days for young male athletes. This according to results of a study reported this month by Reuters. 

What does this news mean for parents? To learn more about how to recognize concussions in adolescents, Premier Health Now spoke with Jon Sulentic, DO, with Premier Orthopedics. He urges parents to get their children evaluated by a physician experienced in concussion management if they show any of the many signs and symptoms of concussion. Although the symptoms are often subtle, some of the classic ones include:

  • Sensitivity to light and sound
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • New or different headaches
  • Changes in behavior or personality 

Personality changes may not be ones you expect, cautions Dr. Sulentic. “Consider any change in personality a clue that something may be wrong,” Dr. Sulentic says. In fact, he realized that his own daughter, usually a happy child, had suffered a concussion only after noticing her acting overly happy one night at dinner.

The study looked at athletes ages 11 to 18 after suffering their first concussion while participating in sports. Of the 110 males and 102 females studied, it took the girls two to three times longer to recover than the boys. 

In the study, the boys who sustained a concussion most often participated in football, soccer, wrestling, lacrosse or ice hockey. The injured girls most often participated in soccer, basketball, softball, field hockey or cheerleading. Overall, 75 percent of the boys recovered within three weeks, compared to 42 percent of girls.

Researchers provided no indication as to why the recovery times are different. “While this study is limited, it does bring to light some things clinicians may need to keep in mind when treating girls,” Dr. Sulentic explains.