Following a study that focused on age and sex differences in concussion outcomes, researchers suggest that female athletes and younger athletes may experience a longer recovery time following concussion. The findings yield from a recent study conducted by East Lansing, Mich-based Michigan State University (MSU) researchers aimed to assess sex and age differences in symptoms, neurocognitive testing (NCT), and postural stability following concussion.

Tracey Covassin, PhD, ATC, MSU department of kinesiology, reportedly led the multi-state, 2-year study that encompassed 296 concussed athletes. Researchers note that study participants completed the Immediate Post-Concussion Assessment and Cognitive Test (ImPACT) and Post-Concussion Symptom Scale (PCSS) at baseline and at 2 days, 7 days, and 14 days, following concussion. Study participants also completed the Balance Error Scoring System (BESS) at 1 day, 2 days, and 3 days, following concussion.

The results suggest that female athletes performed poorly compared to male athletes in visual memory and reported more symptoms after concussion. High school athletes also exhibited impaired verbal memory, which persisted 7 days after concussion, compared to college athletes. The results also indicate that high school male athletes exhibited a poorer score on the BESS than college male athletes.  Researchers add that college female athletes exhibited a poorer score on the BESS than high school female athletes.

According to researchers, the study’s findings support age differences in memory and sex, differences in memory and symptoms, and exhibit an interaction between age and sex on postural stability following concussion. The results warrant consideration from clinicians and researchers when interpreting symptoms, specific components of NCT, and postural stability tests, researchers say. 

“We need to raise awareness that yes, female athletes do get concussions. Too often, when we speak with parents and coaches, they overlook the fact that in comparable sports, females are more concussed than males,” Covassin emphasizes. Covassin adds that the next step researchers need to take is to investigate sex and age differences at the youth sport level and determine if treatment options need to be tailored for an athlete’s age.

The results of the study appear in The American Journal of Sports Medicine

Source(s): Michigan State University, The American Journal of Sports Medicine