Why Do Girls Take Longer Than Boys to Recover from Concussions?
Girls with concussions have more symptoms and longer recoveries than boys, according to a study of pediatric patients recently published in the Clinical Journal of Sport Medicine. Analyzing electronic health records of 192 sports participants ages 7 to 18, researchers found that girls tend to delay seeking specialty medical care for concussions, which may contribute to their slower recovery.
Why do girls have delayed access to treatment?
The study shows that following a concussion, boys saw a sports medicine specialist after a median time of nine days, compared with 15 days for girls. Boys returned to school after an average of 3 days and were back to exercising after about 7 days, but for girls, the average was 4 days until return to school, and 13 days before resuming exercise. Girls also took almost 3 times longer than boys to return to playing sports—119 days vs. 45 days.
However, when researchers compared only those patients who saw a specialist within the first seven days of injury, all the differences between boys and girls on outcomes disappeared.
Study authors speculate that lack of athletic training coverage for girls’ sports may contribute to the delay in receiving treatment. Without immediate medical care, the concussion may not be recognized as such right away and girls may continue playing, not knowing they need timely treatment.
Who is most at risk and what can parents do?
Girls sustain the highest rates of concussion in soccer, basketball, and cheerleading. These same sports also generally have less sideline medical coverage for games and inconsistent athletic training coverage during practice.
Parents should check with their children’s coaches to ask whether sideline medical coverage is provided during games and practices. If your child sustains a head injury playing sports, he or she should be evaluated as quickly as possible by trained medical professionals and visit a sports medicine specialist for follow-up.