Do women athletes return to play after suffering a concussion too soon in comparison to Male athletes?

New studies show that that youth female soccer players may be more likely to “return to the play” immediately after a concussion injury than male players.

An abstract by Shane Miller, a specialized sports physician at Texas Scottish Rite Hospital for Children. Among 58 female athletes, 30 returned to play the same day as the injury compared to just five of the 29 male athletes. Dr. Miller reports that their clinic sees a mix of patients who have recently sustained an injury and those who are recovering and are looking for another medical opinion.

Dr. Miller and clinical research coordinator at the Texas Scottish Rite Hospital Aaron Zynda will present these findings in Chicago at the American Academy of Pediatrics 2017 National Conference and Exhibition.

Dr. Miller also reported that last year alone amongst all sports, 40% of athletes treated at his clinic had returned to play the same day their injury took place despite medical guidelines. However, the sample was filled with male football players and when he took a closer look at soccer — a popular sport in Texas — he said he was surprised to find a difference between female and male players.

A study released in March suggested that high school female athletes suffer concussions at a higher rate than males. Girls soccer resulted in the highest concussion rate among all sports, per the study presented by the Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine researchers.

It’s said that the gender difference is due to heading the soccer ball, lack of protective equipment and an emphasis on in-game contact.

All 50 states have some variation of youth concussion laws that prohibit players, who show signs of concussion, from returning to play or practice until cleared by a health care provider, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported. In the last two years, both U.S. Youth Soccer and the American Youth Soccer Organization have taken drastic measures to limit heading by players under 14, in reaction to concussion-related concerns and studies.

Despite these laws, athletes sometimes continue playing if neither the coach nor athletic trainer recognizes the symptoms or witness’s initial injury. Several times the player does not report the injury until it’s too late and symptoms worsen to the point that medical attention is needed.

Sometimes concussion symptoms do not show up until later, said Travis Lewis, athletic trainer and physician assistant at Kids Plus Pediatrics.

“I think the big barrier that we’re going to have to overcome is the culture of athletes themselves wanting to push through injuries,” Dr. Miller said. He added that it is hard to speculate why female soccer players do not follow concussion guidelines as closely as male soccer players, though one explanation could be that female players more typically may push through injuries.

Mr. Lewis states that ignoring a concussion can prolong recovery and result in sustained symptoms. Treatment between males and females is not different, although he said women tend to report more symptoms, such as headaches and lost memory, than men do.

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