A recent U.S. study shows that high school girls are 56 percent more likely than boys to suffer a concussion in sports that are played by both genders.
Andrew Russman, D.O, of Cleveland Clinic did not take part in the study, but said previous research has shown that neck muscle girth can play a role in concussion risk. Young women, by nature, tend to have longer and thinner necks than their male counterparts, which can account for some of the increased risk.
“One of the reasons this happens is that the amount of sudden movement of the head that occurs with any impact is a strong risk factor for having actual concussion, and that if we have strong neck muscles, that we don’t have our head move quite as much when we have an impact,” said Dr. Russman.
Researchers looked at reported concussion rates from 27 high school sports from 147 high schools in the U.S.
The largest discrepancy was found in the concussion rates for girls’ softball, which were four-times the rates of concussions for boys’ baseball.
Researchers acknowledged that some of the discrepancy could be due to ‘under-reporting’ by high school boys.
Dr. Russman said this isn’t surprising, because in general, women tend to be better reporters of their health than men.
He said the study is a good reminder for all athletes to have conversations with their athletic trainers about ways to reduce their personal risk of concussion.
“I certainly think that these are the kinds of issues that they can discuss with their athletic trainers, with sports medicine doctors, with their teams and coaches to understand, what is the type of conditioning that an athlete needs to undergo to help to reduce their risk of all sorts of injuries including concussion?” said Dr. Russman.
Dr. Russman said it’s important to remember that a concussion is an injury just like other sports-related injuries, and just as we condition to prevent those injuries, we need to think about ways to prevent injury in the head and neck as well.
Complete results of the study can be found in the Journal of Athletic Training.