A survey of injuries over 10 years of high school sports in the United States found that girls were 12 per cent more likely to sustain a concussion than boys, and that girls’ soccer had the highest rate of concussion overall.
Researchers from Northwestern and Wake Forest universities analysed 6,400 concussions sustained during high school sports in the United States between 2005 and 2015. Among their findings was that gridiron football – a so-called “collision” sport with high concussion risk exposures – was fourth on the list of concussions (as a percentage of total injuries) behind girls’ soccer, girls’ volleyball and girls’ basketball.
While the researchers state “it remains unclear why boys’ soccer players do not appear to have the same risk as girls”, they suggest that “a number of possible explanations for this difference have been proposed, including reduced protective forces in females due to decreased head-neck segment mass and reduced neck strength and girth in females. In sports such as soccer, it has also been suggested that females have a larger ball-to-head size ratio, which may predispose females to a higher risk of concussion compared to males. There is also growing consensus in the literature that girls may experience increased symptom severity, protracted recovery, and may be more open with communicating symptoms than boys. Currently, there is conflicting evidence regarding the role of oestrogen [the primary female sex hormone, responsible for the development and regulation of the female reproductive system and secondary sex characteristics] in the pathophysiology of concussion with both neuroprotective and detrimental effects reported.”
The study is available to download here, courtesy of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons.
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