Male and female high school athletes are vulnerable to concussions, but a study finds that such head injuries may produce different symptoms between the sexes.
The findings, to be published in the January 2011 issue of the Journal of Athletic Training, were released Tuesday at the National Athletic Trainers' Assn. 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 over two years.
In the first year, headache was the most common ailment among boys and girls. When broken down by gender, boys said they experienced amnesia and confusion or disorientation as primary symptoms more than girls.
In the second year, headaches again were the No. 1 symptom for both sexes. Boys again more frequently reported amnesia and confusion/disorientation symptoms than did girls, and girls more often reported drowsiness and sensitivity to noise.
Most of the athletes (64%) went back to play within nine days of being injured. The number of symptoms reported by both boys and girls were the same.
"Diagnosing sport-related concussions is one of the most difficult tasks faced by sports medicine clinicians," said study co-author R. Dawn Comstock in a news release. Comstock, associate professor at the Ohio State University College of Medicine, added: "No biological markers exist to detect concussion, so diagnosis largely depends on a patient's own report. Diagnosing concussion is further complicated by the tendency of many athletes to under-report or hide symptoms from their doctors, athletic trainers, coaches and parents."
She added, "As more girls and young women participate in rough-and-tumble sports, understanding possible differences in concussion symptoms between the two genders has become increasingly important."