Concussion impact is the same in both male and female high-school soccer players, according to a study published Tuesday in the Journal of Neurosurgery Pediatrics.
The only difference researchers discovered was that female soccer players report more symptoms post-concussion than male players, says lead study author Dr. Scott Zuckerman, suggesting social biases maybe the reason. But whether or not females actually suffer more serious injuries from concussions hasn't been determined.
Researchers looked at the neurocognitive scores in 80 high school soccer players, 40 girls and 40 boys of similar age, medical history, education, prior concussions, pre and post concussion testing timing. In this study baseline and post-concussion scores of verbal and visual memory, visual-motor speed, reaction time, impulse control, as well as the total number of symptoms were all examined.
Zuckerman, who's also a neurosurgery resident at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, says previous studies that used a larger number of athletes didn't control for age, grade, education level or, most importantly, specific sports.
Female soccer players are second only to football players in the number of concussions they report, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. About 200,000 girls participate in high school soccer every year.
"If you've had a head injury, you are not doing anyone a service by hiding symptoms or an injury. Let someone know," says Zuckerman.
According to the National Athletic Trainers' Association, headaches are the most common symptoms for male and female athletes who have experienced a concussion. Beyond that, males experience more cognitive symptoms while females experience more neuro-behavioral and physical symptoms. The same recovery time is needed for both sexes.