Research shows that girls, specifically teenagers, are more prone to concussions than boys. Even when they are playing the same sports with the same rules girls are more likely to get a concussion than boys, MomsTEAM reports.
“I think [concussions] happen more in girls soccer than in boys soccer,’’ said Desmond Conner, a sportswriter for the Hartford Courant.
MomsTEAM, a website for parents, coaches and young athletes, reports that a 2007 study found that the concussion rate among girl soccer players was 68 percent higher than among boys.
Another 2007 study showed that the concussion rate for high school basketball players was three times higher for girls than boys. Although some female lacrosse players wear helmets while playing, 18.7 percent of injuries are concussions, compared to 15.6 percent of boy lacrosse players’ injuries, MomsTEAM reported.
Concussions are more common in certain sports for girls because there are more frequent and impactful collisions, Conner and Bob Howard, the assistant director of athletics for athletic training at the University of Connecticut, said in separate interviews.
“Women’s ice hockey [has the most concussions] and research shows women’s soccer has a 2.1 times greater risk of concussion than men’s soccer, softball has a 3.2 times greater risk than baseball and women’s basketball has a 1.7 times greater risk,” Howard said.
There are different theories as to why girls are more prone to getting concussions. One reason may be the anatomical difference between male and female head and neck structures.
MomsTEAM reported that a study of college soccer players found that female players had 26 percent less head and neck mass than males. Women’s neck muscles are not as developed as males’. Therefore, they are not as good at absorbing the shock of impact.
Another reason could be that girls receive more attention when injured, MomsTEAM reported.
“As a society, we protect girls more than boys,” Dawn Comstock, an associate professor of epidemiology at the Colorado School of Public Health, told MomsTEAM. “Boys have to be tough and learn to play through pain, so they are less likely to report a concussion.”
MomsTEAM suggests that males do not usually self-report injuries because they do not want to lose their spot on a team or are ignorant to the potential risk.
“Culturally, it may be OK for girls to talk about a concussion,” Christopher Ingersoll, a professor of sports medicine at the University of Virginia, told MomsTEAM. “Athletes who play tough, macho sports may not be as open [to talking about them.]”
However, some disagree with those findings. Gary Lynch, a high school coach, told the Baltimore Sun that he believes that the top girl players are also reluctant to report their injuries because they too do not want to lose their spots on their team.
Not only are girls more likely to get a concussion than boys, but they also experience different symptoms. A study in the January 2011 issue of the Journal of Athletic Training found that girls and boys report different symptoms post-concussion. Girls experience neurobehavioral effects, such as memory loss and other symptoms including drowsiness and sensitivity to noise, while boys reported more cognitive symptoms, such as amnesia and disorientation, the study reported.
Howard and Conner disagreed with the findings that girls are more prone to concussions. They both said that boys and men experience more concussions because they play sports, such as football, where high-impact collisions happen frequently.
Samara Rosen is a student from Glen Rock, New Jersey.