Wednesday, October 03, 2007
Concussions and girls
When you think of high school sports concussions, whom do you envision getting banged up? Usually it's a strapping young football player - a male - isn't it?
But in sports that both girls and boys play such as basketball and soccer, girls are more likely to suffer these dangerous brain injuries - more than 1 1/2 times in basketball and almost three times more likely in soccer. That's according to a new study published in the Journal of Athletic Training, which looked at high school students at more than 100 schools nationwide. And, girls take much longer to recover and get back on the field than boys do.
What I find even more intriguing are the possible explanations behind the surprising stats. On one hand, researchers point to biophysical phenomena - for instance, the fact that boys have stronger neck muscles and larger heads than girls, so they can tolerate stronger blows.
But there is also a sociocultural explanation: The suspicion that girls tend to report their concussion symptoms more than boys, and boys hold back when they may be feeling a bit dizzy or nauseated because they want to be tough and keep playing, despite the potential long-term dangers of getting hit again too soon. (By the way, those possible dangers are no joke: repeated concussions can lead to long-term loss of cognitive function and memory loss.) And as far as returning to the field - coaches, athletic trainers and parents tend to be more cautious about letting girls back on to the court or field, more so than with their male counterparts.
So what do you think? Does it seem more plausible that girls are more protected (by themselves and others), and that boys are allowed to be more aggressive and less cautious about these injuries? Or do you think it's just a physical thing? Or both? Or something else altogether?
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