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March 6, 2015

Concussions in Women’s Sports

Girls Playing Soccer Bump Heads

The media often highlights concussion issues in men’s sports, but what about women’s? According to the Globe and Mail, more girls suffer from head injuries in no-bodychecking female hockey than full-contact male football.  A recent study of high school and collegiate athletes found that women suffer from concussions at a much higher rate than boys and men in similar sports.

Dr.Goulet, a pediatrician in charge of the concussion clinic at the Children’s Hospital in Eastern Ontario, believes that this difference is cause by the difference in head and neck size between males and females, and because women are more likely to report their symptoms. Hormone levels could also contribute to women having more severe and long-lasting symptoms.

Marjorie A. Snyder, senior director of research for the Women’s Sports Foundation, says in her Washington Post article that better equipment, neck strength training, better referee calls, and stricter rules could help lower the number of concussions. She also believes female role models need to speak out on this issue and more research is needed to compare gender differences in concussions.

Snyder says “We shouldn’t simply accept that the best practices for boys’ and men’s sports will protect girls and women in the same way…The bodies of female athletes are different and their brains deserve just as much attention.”

For more information

  • Epidemiology of Collegiate Injuries for 15 Sports: Summary and Recommendations for Injury Prevention Initiatives, Journal of Athletic Training
  • Girls suffer sports concussions at a higher rate than boys. Why is that overlooked?, Washington Post
  • The growing problem of concussion for girls in hockey, The Globe and Mail