There are over 250,000 sports related concussions per year among student athletes. However, the female athlete has been shown to sustain 50% more concussions than the male athlete. The differences are most commonly seen in sports such as basketball, soccer, and volleyball, as well as lacrosse.
Additionally, some studies have documented that female athletes have more severe concussions then their male counterparts. This is often coupled with worse symptoms, including greater cognitive functional deficits as well as a longer recovery period.
Why do females have a higher risk of sustaining a concussion? There have been many medical theories proposed to answer that question…
- Females have slender necks and smaller heads compared to males. Biomechanical studies demonstrate that females have 50% more head exhilaration during head trauma than males. This translates into a higher likelihood of injury to the brain during a traumatic event.
- The female athlete has a relatively weak neck musculature compared to males. This may lead to less protection of the head during a major impact.
- Hormonal differences could also play a role as estrogen has been shown to be more detrimental to a brain after an injury.
- Additionally, there is a theory that the male athlete tends to report concussions less than a female does. There have been reports that gender stereotypes reinforce this behavior as males may try to provide a tougher persona. However, in my experience taking care of the University of Louisville women’s soccer and lacrosse team, I would disagree with this theory.
Dr. Grossfeld has over 25 years of experience in orthopedic medicine and is a double board-certified orthopedic surgeon in sports medicine. To get more information about concussions and other sports related injuries, contact Dr. Stacie Grossfeld today by calling 502-212-2663 to make an appointment. Orthopaedic Specialists has two convenient locations in Louisville, KY and is currently accepting new patients.