Concussions are a prevalent concern in sports, affecting both boys and girls. However, recent research indicates that girls may experience lengthier recovery times compared to boys. A study published in the Clinical Journal of Sports Medicine shed light on this issue, revealing that girls often face delays in receiving medical treatment after sustaining a concussion. This blog explores the reasons behind the discrepancy and highlights the importance of timely and equitable concussion care.
The Study Findings for concussion:
The study examined the medical records of nearly 200 student athletes aged 7 to 18 who were diagnosed with concussions. The following key findings emerged from the research:
- Delay in Seeking Specialist Care: The study revealed that boys took an average of nine days to see a specialist after a concussion, whereas girls took an average of 15 days. This discrepancy suggests that girls experience longer delays in accessing the specialized medical attention necessary for concussion management.
- Prolonged Neurocognitive Recovery: Girls took significantly longer to achieve a full neurocognitive recovery, with an average of 68 days, compared to the 40-day recovery period for boys. This disparity in recovery times highlights the potential challenges that girls may face in resuming normal cognitive functioning after a concussion.
- Return-to-Play Duration: Girls also experienced a significantly longer duration before returning to play after a concussion, with an average of 119 days compared to boys' 45 days. This discrepancy raises concerns about the potential impact on girls' participation in sports and their overall athletic development.
Checkout our blog - Understanding Pediatric Concussion and Its Aftermath
Factors Contributing to the Delay:
- Limited Availability of Sports Trainers: The study identified a notable difference in the presence of sports trainers on the sidelines of girls' games compared to boys' games. Girls' sporting events are often considered "moderate risk," resulting in fewer trainers being present to provide immediate care in case of injuries. This disparity in resources and support may contribute to delayed recognition and treatment of concussions in girls.
- Underestimation of Concussion Risks in Women's Athletics: Pediatric neurologist, highlighted that certain sports, such as women's soccer, have high concussion rates. However, these sports often receive less attention and funding compared to prominent male-dominated sports like football. This underestimation of concussion risks in women's athletics may lead to inadequate preventive measures and delayed access to proper medical care.
Addressing the Disparity:
- Education and Awareness: Raising awareness about the potential severity of concussions specialists and the importance of prompt treatment is crucial. Educating athletes, coaches, parents, and medical professionals about concussion symptoms and the need for timely care can help reduce delays in diagnosis and treatment.
- Improved Sideline Support: Efforts should be made to ensure that adequate medical support, including trained sports trainers, is available at all sporting events, regardless of gender or perceived risk level. By enhancing sideline support, the recognition and initial management of concussions can be improved.
- Equal Emphasis on Women's Athletics: Recognizing the risks associated with concussions in women's athletics is essential. Allocating resources, conducting research, and implementing preventive measures specific to women's sports can help address the disparity and ensure equal access to timely and appropriate concussion care.
By understanding the factors contributing to longer recovery times for girls who sustain concussions and taking appropriate action, such as increasing awareness, improving sideline support, and prioritizing women's athletics, we can strive for equitable and timely concussion care for all athletes. One crucial step in achieving this goal is the establishment of specialized centers like the New Jersey Pediatric Neuroscience Institute's Concussion Center.
The New Jersey Concussion Center is an invaluable resource that provides comprehensive care and expertise in the diagnosis, treatment, and management of concussions, particularly in pediatric and adolescent populations. Their specialized approach takes into account the unique needs and considerations of young athletes, ensuring they receive the best possible care for their injuries.