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Rate of Concussions Higher Among Women

April 19, 2012

A recent study done by the American Journal of Sports Medicine has shown a disturbing disparity in the rate of concussions among young women when compared to men.  With the world seemingly turning their attention to head injuries and the long term effects that they may have, this recent study shows that women suffer concussions at twice the rate of their male counterparts in the same sport.  While football players continue to rate highest on concussions among all athletes, the focus has begun to shift to other physical sports that are causing concussions including women’s athletics.

Why Such Focus on Concussions Now?

The NHL has recently agreed to take part in a massive medical study to determine the effects of concussions as well as possible ways to prevent the injuries from occurring.  Most recently, Sidney Crosby, who is widely considered the future star of the NHL suffered a severe concussion that took him out of the game for nearly 2 years.

Also, the NFL has come under fire for player safety as many former players have filed a class-action lawsuit against the league.  This has led the NFL to take ground-breaking steps in the area of brain injury and concussion prevention.  As the NFL has taken a strong stance in recent years to protect its players, many professional sports leagues have followed their lead enacting new post-concussion policies to prevent more serious injuries, and investing in possible prevention methods.

Why Would Women be More Vulnerable to Concussions?

While multiple experts have debated this topic, the results of the study really come down to one of two common explanations.  The first explanation is that men have larger muscles surrounding their neck and shoulders, leading to a better ability to absorb physical contact to the head and neck.

Other experts in the field of concussions believe that the disparity may be a result of perception and not actually be caused by an anatomical difference.  Given the perception of the male athlete as a “rough and tough” individual, many experts believe that women are just more likely to report concussion symptoms whereas her male counterpart might be more likely to “walk it off.”  After all, that’s exactly what led to the class action lawsuit against the NFL, as players claimed to have been forced back into the game following a concussion.

Regardless of the stance taken on why the disparity between men and women exists, one thing is for sure, more research is necessary to determine the main causes for concussions and possible prevention methods.  The progress made over the past 5 years has been significant, but more research is necessary to ensure the safety of athletes of all ages and genders.

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