AANS Neurosurgeon | Volume 28, Number 3, 2019

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Female Athletes Seek Specialty Care for Concussion Later than Males, Potentially Contributing to Longer Recovery

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Female athletes seek specialty medical treatment later than male athletes for sports-related concussions (SRC), and this delay may cause them to experience more symptoms and longer recoveries. Researchers from the Sports Medicine Program at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia (CHOP), reported these findings after analyzing electronic health records of sports participants aged 7 to 18.

The study raises the question of whether, in youth and high school sports, inequities in medical and athletic trainer coverage on the sidelines are contributing to delayed identification and specialized treatment of concussion for female athletes, leading to more symptoms and longer recovery trajectories.

“There is speculation in the scientific community that the reasons adolescent female athletes might suffer more symptoms and prolonged recoveries than their male counterparts include weaker neck musculature and hormonal differences,” says senior author Christina Master, MD, a pediatric and adolescent primary care sports medicine specialist and Senior Fellow at CHOP’s Center for Injury Research and Prevention. “We now see that delayed presentation to specialty care for concussion is associated with prolonged recovery, and that is something we can potentially address.”

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