Women athletes suffer more concussions than men in most sports, but the majority of research on brain trauma to date has been conducted on men, according to an article published Monday in the health and medicine magazine STAT.
“If concussion is the invisible injury, then females are the invisible population within that injury,” Katherine Snedaker, a licensed clinical social worker from Norwalk, Conn. who founded the nonprofit PINK Concussions, told the publication.
That’s a problem, the article points out, because new research is uncovering that female brains may respond differently to concussion than men’s. Scientists point to variances in hormone production, migraine response and neck strength to giving women lower outcomes in concussion recovery.
Yet most researchers admit more studies are needed to fully understand how women differ than men when it comes to confessions. To that point, a current study funded by the Pentagon and the NCAA is tracking more than 1,200 college athletes with concussions, one-third of who are female. Soccer players Brandi Chastain, Abby Wambach and Megan Rapinoe have all notably pledged to donate their brains to concussion research after their deaths.
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Finally, there’s some debate over whether girls and women are less likely than boys and men to report concussions or symptoms of them. “When a girl says she still needs to go to the nurse four weeks after a concussion,”she gets judged as a malingerer or someone with a mental health problem,” Snedaker told STAT.