Teenage boys and girls can both suffer a concussion during sports activities; however, female athletes may take more than twice as long to fully recover, according to a new study.
Researchers examined data on 110 male and 102 female athletes, ranging in age from 11 to 18 years, who sustained their first concussion while participating in sports.
To assess the duration of symptoms, the researchers examined patient records for young athletes treated for concussions at one medical practice in New Jersey from 2011 to 2013. The athletes were 15 years old on average.
Half of the girls reported still having symptoms at least 28 days after sustaining a concussion, while half of the boys no longer had symptoms after 11 days, the study found.
Boys were more likely to receive their injuries while participating in football, soccer, wrestling, lacrosse and ice hockey. Most of the girls’ injuries were from soccer, basketball, softball, field hockey or cheerleading.
Overall, 75 percent of the boys recovered from their concussions within three weeks, compared to just 42 percent of girls.
Researchers acknowledge that the study was a small group and focused on a single medical practice.
It’s also possible that some of the difference in recovery time for boys and girls was due to pre-existing medical conditions, notes one injury prevention director.
According to Dr. Mark Halstead, director of the Sports Concussion Clinic at St. Louis Children’s Hospital, females that who participate in similar sports as males have a higher rate of concussion.
“Boys and girls likely have different recovery courses, but we have to treat each concussion individually,” Halstead, who wasn’t involved in the study, said by email to Reuters Health. . “Adult coaches need to create an environment and culture for their players that stresses that a concussion is an important injury to not downplay and encourage the reporting of symptoms.”
Experts agree that the most important take-away from the study is that it is extremely important for adolescents who sustain a concussion to seek proper care and follow through with recommended treatment and rest following an injury.
A teenager, like an adult, may lose consciousness after getting a concussion, but the majority of people do not pass out after a head injury.
Watch for these symptoms if your teen has suffered a head injury:
· A headache that lasts more than a few minutes
· Trouble with vision, balance or coordination
· Nausea or vomiting
· Difficulty concentrating, thinking or making decisions
· Trouble speaking, slurring or making sense
· Confusion, sleepiness, emotional for no reason
If your child experiences a head injury, make sure that a doctor examines him or her. If any of these symptoms persists, seek immediate medical attention. Concussions should always be taken seriously.