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The Facts: Brain Injuries and Female Athletes

Brain injuries are serious conditions, spanning from mild concussions to debilitating brain damage. Their recent prevalence in the media has called attention to the dangers of brain injury and the risk that is inherently involved in sports like football and boxing. The National Football is dealing with a major brain injury related lawsuit, as is the National Collegiate Athletic Association. But recent reports are highlighting the serious reality that brain injuries are not limited to males.

According to a report by NBC News, young women may be more likely to suffer from brain injuries than their male counterparts. Of the millions of concussions reported each year, at least a third of them are experienced by females. This is causing researchers to take a serious look into the dangers of female-dominated sports. Female soccer players reportedly have a 68 percent higher chance of developing a concussion than male soccer players. Among all sports played by both genders, females develop concussions twice as often.

The exact reason for these statistics are still unknown, but researchers are working to develop several theories:

–According to reports, the neck muscles of an average female are not as developed as those of a male athlete. Therefore, when injuries occur, their necks move around more vigorously. This can cause increased shaking of the brain up against the skull. According to the report, it can even lead to secondary concussions on top of the original one.

–Females are also more likely to report incidents of concussion. Even though the prevalence of female concussions is not discussed at the same level or frequency as male concussions, females are reportedly more likely to seek medical help for their conditions and report symptoms of concussions to their parents, coaches or physicians.

Female hospitalization, stemming from traumatic brain injuries, reportedly increased by 20% between 2001 and 2014. Dr. Phillip Stieg, Chief of Neurosurgery at New York Presbyterian/Weill Cornell Medical Center is quoted in the NBC article as stating, “Typically, concussions occur around some event when you receive a blow to the head. {Victims} can develop headaches, sleep disorders, appetite disorders and cognitive disorders.” He went on to explain that concussions usually resolve on their own within a week. However, persistent symptoms should be treated by a doctor. According to the reported research, females are more likely to follow this general medical advice.

While some incidents occur despite diligent prevention, there are some steps that females can take to prevent concussions and more serious traumatic brain injuries. Though many female sports do not incorporate helmets, this headgear is useful in protecting the head from blows. Bats, balls and even other players can collide with the head, possibly leading to a concussion. Protective padding around the neck is also useful in the prevention of injury.

If you or a loved is suffering with a severe brain injury, contact the experienced attorneys of Levin & Perconti at (312) 332-2872 for a free consultation.

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