AUSTIN (KXAN) — Young female athletes wait longer to get medical attention for concussions compared to boys, according to new research.
Previous studies reported girls simply took longer to recover from a concussion because of hormonal differences and weaker neck muscles compared to boys, but this new research suggests something else may be to blame.
“When I was in college, I played lacrosse for all four years. In my junior year, I sustained a really large concussion and was out for two and a half weeks and then went back to playing,” said Dr. Kate Labiner, a pediatric neurologist with Child Neurology Consultants of Austin.
Dr. Labiner says she can relate to the new findings as “an athlete you understand better where athletes are coming from.”
The study published in September’s Clinical Journal of Sports Medicine looked at medical records of 192 students diagnosed with a concussion between the ages of 7 and 18.
Researchers found the median number of days it took boys to see a specialist for their concussion was nine days.
It took girls 15 days to seek medical attention which doctors caution can lead to a longer recovery time.
What is behind the delay?
Not enough trainers in women’s athletics. The study suggests a lack of trainers on the sidelines to spot concussion symptoms in female athletes can lead to delayed treatment.
“Women’s soccer is a big one. We know women’s soccer is the leading cause of concussions in girls,” said Dr. Labiner. “That part of the study I found very interesting, talking about the availability of trainers at every single sport. Football has become a highlighted sport and the cornerstone of what we worry about from a sport standpoint, but we don’t think about what is termed the ‘poor-funded sports’ and that tends to be unfortunately women’s athletics.”
Dr. Labiner suggests another reason why competitive female athletes take longer to recover from a concussion is that they are waiting longer to seek immediate help.
“We used to say machismo was solely in men’s sports and I don’t think that’s true. Women are equally as afraid to not be on the field, to have their starting spot taken away from them, to be seen as letting their team down or the weak one on their team — that’s not exclusive to men,” she said.