Boy and Girl Athletes Experience Different Signs of Concussion

Filed under: In The News, Sports, Health & Safety: Teens, Research Reveals: Teens

signs of concussion

Is your son forgetful after taking a huge hit during the game? It could be a concussion. Credit: Getty

Does your daughter spend all day yawning, yet she swears she made her bedtime curfew? Does your son protest he seriously doesn't remember what time the lights are supposed to be out? They're not necessarily yanking your chain.

If they're athletes, and they happened to take a fall or hit on the field or court, it could be that they've suffered a concussion, and the girl's fatigue and boy's lack of memory are signs of more serious medical symptoms.

It turns out head injuries may produce different symptoms between the sexes, according to a study to be published in the January 2011 issue of the Journal of Athlete Training, the Los Angeles Times reports.

The findings were released Dec. 7 at the National Athletic Trainers' Association Youth Sports Safety Summit in Washington, D.C.

Researchers collected data on 812 sports concussions suffered by 610 male and 202 female high school athletes from high schools across the nation over two years, according to Time magazine. They found girls were more likely to suffer neurobehavioral and somatic symptoms, namely drowsiness and sensitivity to noise, than boys. Male high school athletes, on the other hand, were more likely to report cognitive symptoms, particularly amnesia and disorientation, than girls.

Parents should take note that the findings carry an important message about treatment and diagnosis. Your daughter's drowsiness and son's apparent amnesia are not just teen spaciness, the report warns.

"Some of the symptoms that girls seem more likely to suffer can be overlooked, especially in a hectic sideline situation," Dawn Comstock, a research faculty member at the Center for Injury and Research Policy at Nationwide Children's Hospital in Columbus, Ohio, and an author of the study, tells Time.

Comstock tells the site it's easy to attribute these symptoms to other possible events, such as late night study sessions and lack of sleep. Same goes for boys. If male athletes were to start having cognitive issues such as memory loss, coaches and athletic trainers should treat those symptoms much more seriously, and keep the players on the sidelines, Comstock says.

So what causes these gender differences?

"That's the $54,000 question," Gerard Gioia, director of the Safe Concussion Outcome, Recovery and Education Program at the Children's National Medical Center in Washington, D.C., tells Time. "Are there differences in brain response that can account for different symptoms? Does it have to do with hormones? The jury is still out."

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Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.