Female athletes and younger athletes take longer to recover from concussions, according to researchers at Michigan State University. The findings suggest physicians and trainers should take gender and age into account when dealing with the injury.
“This study confirms that age and sex have an impact on recovery, and future research should focus on developing treatments tailored to those differences,” lead study author Tracey Covassin, PhD, ATC, stated in a Michigan State University news release.
The study, published in The American Journal of Sports Medicine, involved 296 athletes who sustained concussion and were involved in another 2-year, multistate study. According to the study abstract, the 296 participants completed the Post-Concussion Symptom Scale and Immediate Post-Concussion Assessment and Cognitive Test (ImPACT) at baseline and the 2-, 7- and 14-day post-concussion marks. Balance Error Scoring System tests were also administered on the first, second and third days after concussions were sustained.
Covassin and her team found female athletes performed worse than males on visual memory tests and reported more symptoms than male athletes after concussion. Additionally, following concussion, high school athletes performed worse than college athletes on verbal and visual memory tests.
Further, the release noted, some of the younger athletes in the study were still impaired up to 2 weeks after their injuries.
“Younger athletes appear more at risk for second-impact syndrome,” Covassin stated in the release. “While it is rare, there is a serious risk for brain damage, and the risk is heightened when athletes are coming back before they heal.”
“If we can develop treatments that speak directly to sex and age, I think we can better protect athletes from the long-term side effects of concussions,” she added.
- Covassin T, Elbin RJ, Harris W, et al. The role of age and sex in symptoms, neurocognitive performance, and postural stability in athletes after concussion. Am J Sports Med. 2012. doi: 10.1177/0363546512444554