Girls take longer to heal from concussions, study finds

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AUSTIN (KXAN) — Concussions are keeping girls out of games much longer than boys.  A new study says girls take longer to heal from a brain injury.

Sydney Montoya has had three concussion in the last few years.  “It felt like it lasted forever,” said Montoya. “I just sat in a dark room, because lights and sound bothered me.”

The 17-year-old says her concussions kept her out of school and also games for weeks.

The study published by The Journal of the American Osteopathic Association (http://jaoa.org/article.aspx?articleid=2656577) says symptoms like headaches can linger much longer in girls.  For boys, it’s about 11 days and for girls up to 28.

“We are seeing a lot more concussions in girls soccer and in volleyball, cheerleading and softball,” explained Meredith Phipps, a nurse practitioner with SportsSafe, a clinic in Austin that specializes in pediatric concussion care.  The team says they’ve also noticed recovery for girls can be much longer.

“We see injuries not from hitting the ball, but jumping up and hitting heads with another player or getting knocked and hitting your head on the ground,” said Phipps.

Experts say more research is being done to understand why there is a difference in girls and boys.  One thing they’re finding is that girls are not only reporting but also recognizing symptoms of concussions much more quickly than boys.

The fear of any kind of brain damage can be paralyzing for parents.

“You want them to be aggressive and, especially for girls, you know you want them to get out there and push as hard as they can. But you also want them to be safe,” said parent Kerry Burris.  Her daughter plays soccer.

Players like Montoya say they’ve learned to play smarter. “I try not to head the ball and I’m not as aggressive as I used to be,” she said. She now coaches younger players at Soccer Zone in Cedar Park.

There are no gender-based recommendations for concussion prevention, but experts say education is key.   One recommendation is talking to coaches and making sure safety precautions are in place.

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