Sports-related concussions, particularly when they occur multiple times over a period of weeks, months, or years, can be permanently debilitating for athletes. Indeed, researchers have linked degenerative brain diseases like chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) to repeat concussions. Yet even a single concussion in a sporting event or recreational activity can have devastating results. According to a recent article in Nature magazine, a new study suggests that sports-related concussions and other traumatic brain injuries tend to have worse effects on female athletes. Indeed, as the article reports, “as women’s soccer, rugby and other sports gain popularity, scientists are racing to understand how the female brain responds to head injury.”
Why Female Athletes Might Experience Concussions Differently Than Male Athletes
Women athletes from years and decades past have spoken out about their personal experiences of sustaining sports-related concussions, including women who have since been diagnosed with dementia “linked to concussions from heading the ball.” According to the article, research into concussions and gender is in its early stages, which means there are no clear answers about why female athletes may experience more significant effects of sports-related concussions or may be more likely to sustain a concussion on the field. Yet researchers “have offered some explanations for the greater risk to women,” which “range from differences in the microstructure of the brain to the influence of hormones, coaching regimes, players’ level of experience, and the management of injuries.”
To be clear, the possible explanations range from biological ones to environmental and sociocultural ones. The article also underscores that existing sports-concussion protocols were developed in relation to men’s sports, and thus they may not attend properly to the needs of women athletes in various sports. Indeed, according to rehabilitation neuroscience researcher Michael Grey, “we take all of these data, primarily from studies on men; we apply them to women.” Grey notes that the practice needs “to change,” and suggests that concussion protocols must be developed based on the specific needs of women athletes.
Female Athletes Are More Likely to Sustain Concussions
Most immediately important is this fact: female athletes, based on existing research, are almost two times as likely as male athletes in similar or comparable sports to sustain concussions. As a result, female athletes in colleges and universities are more likely to miss study days as a result of those injuries and to experience related educational effects in the future.
Women’s soccer has been studied more than many other women’s sports in which concussions are common, and researchers have been able to show that female soccer players “score lower in memory tests and experienced more symptoms than did their male counterparts.” Recent research into women’s rugby suggests that nearly half of all female players “experienced injuries caused by their head whiplashing into the ground, whereas only one male player did.” The takeaway message is that, when it comes to sports-related concussions, women tend to fare worse than men for what may be a variety of reasons.
Contact a Personal Injury Attorney in Florida
If you or your child sustained a preventable concussions or other traumatic brain injury (TBI) in a sport or recreational activity, you may be able to file a claim for compensation. An experienced West Palm Beach personal injury attorney at our firm can assist you. Contact Lesser Lesser Landy & Smith PLLC to learn more.