Female and younger athletes take longer to overcome concussions

May 8, 2012

New research out of Michigan State University reveals female athletes and younger athletes take longer to recover from concussions, findings that call for physicians and athletic trainers to take sex and age into account when dealing with the injury.

The study, led by Tracey Covassin of MSU's Department of Kinesiology, found females performed worse than males on visual memory tests and reported more symptoms postconcussion.

Additionally, high school athletes performed worse than on verbal and tests, and some of the younger athletes still were impaired up to two weeks after their injuries.

"While previous research suggests younger athletes and females may take longer to recover from a concussion, little was known about the interactive effects of age and sex on symptoms, cognitive testing and postural stability," said Covassin, a certified athletic trainer at MSU.

"This study confirms that age and sex have an impact on recovery, and future research should focus on developing treatments tailored to those differences."

The research funded by a two-year grant from the National Operating Committee on Standards for Athletic Equipment, appears in the current edition of the .

Between 2001 and 2005, federal statistics reveal more than 150,000 sport-related concussions occurred among youth ages 14 to 19. However, the actual number is likely much higher, as current statistics reflects only concussions that involved visits to the emergency departments.

The study led by Covassin looked at nearly 300 concussed athletes from multiple states over two years. All of the athletes had previously completed a baseline test before taking three different postconcussion tests, the same ones used in professional sports, after being injured.

When it comes to , Covassin – who has worked with thousands of young athletes across mid-Michigan since coming to MSU in 2005 – said what often is needed most is simple education.

"We need to raise awareness that yes, do get concussions," she said. "Too often, when we speak with parents and coaches, they overlook the fact that in comparable sports, females are concussed more than males."

Coupled with the fact that high take longer to recover than collegiate athletes, Covassin said the study reveals a real potential danger to younger athletes by not fully recovering after a concussion.

"Younger athletes appear more at risk for second-impact syndrome, where a second concussion can come with more severe symptoms," she said. "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."

The next steps, Covassin said, are to investigate sex and age differences at the youth sport level and whether treatment options needed to be tailored for an athlete's age.

"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 said.

Explore further: Concussion baseline important for accurate future assessment in at-risk youth athletes

More information: The full article appears at ajs.sagepub.com/content/early/ … /26/0363546512444554

Related Stories

Concussion baseline important for accurate future assessment in at-risk youth athletes

July 7, 2011
Creating a baseline for each youth athlete is a critical part of accurate future concussion assessment, according to researchers presenting their study at the American Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine's Annual Meeting ...

Nearly 30 percent of all college athlete injuries a result of 'overuse'

April 12, 2012
Overuse injuries –found most often in low-contact sports that involve long training sessions or where the same movement is repeated numerous times – make up nearly 30 percent of all injuries sustained by collegiate ...

Visual test effective in diagnosing concussions in collegiate athletes

August 31, 2011
A sideline visual test effectively detected concussions in collegiate athletes, according to a team of researchers from the Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania. Concussed athletes scored an average ...

Recommended for you

To combat teen smoking, health experts recommend R ratings for movies that depict tobacco use

July 21, 2017
Public health experts have an unusual suggestion for reducing teen smoking: Give just about any movie that depicts tobacco use an automatic R rating.

Why sugary drinks and protein-rich meals don't go well together

July 20, 2017
Having a sugar-sweetened drink with a high-protein meal may negatively affect energy balance, alter food preferences and cause the body to store more fat, according to a study published in the open access journal BMC Nutrition.

Aging Americans enjoy longer life, better health when avoiding three risky behaviors

July 20, 2017
We've heard it before from our doctors and other health experts: Keep your weight down, don't smoke and cut back on the alcohol if you want to live longer.

Opioids and obesity, not 'despair deaths,' raising mortality rates for white Americans

July 20, 2017
Drug-related deaths among middle-aged white men increased more than 25-fold between 1980 and 2014, with the bulk of that spike occurring since the mid-1990s when addictive prescription opioids became broadly available, according ...

Parents have critical role in preventing teen drinking

July 20, 2017
Fewer teenagers are drinking alcohol but more needs to be done to curb the drinking habits of Australian school students, based on the findings of the latest study by Adelaide researchers.

Fresh fish oil lowers diabetes risk in rat offspring

July 19, 2017
Fresh fish oil given to overweight pregnant rats prevented their offspring from developing a major diabetes risk factor, Auckland researchers have found.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.