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Concussion: Do Boys and Girls Present Differently?

Sport-related concussion symptoms have been researched most extensively in men and boys due to the fact that, historically, they participated in sports more than their female counterparts. However, the rising number of young female athletes means that the number of girls with sport-related concussions is also rising.
Do Females and Males React Differently to Concussion?

Parents and coaches have long noted that female high school athletes seem to react differently to concussions than male high school athletes, but now there is also scientific research to support this observation.


A 2011 American study of concussion symptoms in high school student athletes found that boys were more likely to suffer cognitive symptoms than girls, namely amnesia and confusion.


Girls were more likely than boys to report drowsiness (a neurobehavioural symptom) and noise sensitivity (a somatic symptom).

Both Boys and Girls

However, headache was still the most common and most noticeable symptom for both boys and girls. There was also no difference between the sexes in the number of symptoms reported, severity of concussion, time it took symptoms to resolve, and time it took for the student athletes to return to their sport.

What will the real-world ramifications to this study be? Because symptom evaluation is only one component of concussion evaluation, these results will not result in any lapses in diagnosis. However, these findings may spread awareness about sex differences in response to concussion, prompting further research into the topic and possibly symptoms to look for when identifying a concussion.

Written by Katherine Christ at Simone Friedman Speech-Language Services

Source: Frommer, L. J., Gurka, K. K., Cross, K. M., Ingersoll, C. M., Comstock, R. D., et. al. (2011). Sex differences in concussion symptoms of high school athletes. Journal of Athletic Training, 46(1), 76-84.

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