A new study published in the Journal of Athletic Training claims that girls are 56 percent more likely to sustain concussions in high school sports that are played by both girls and boys, including softball, cross-country, soccer, crew, lacrosse, baseball and basketball.
The concussion rates in girls were four times that of boys in softball and baseball. However, boys are less likely to report occurrences than girls are, which may account for the discrepancy, according to the authors of the study.
The study was conducted by Dr. Zachary Y. Kerr at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill using data from NATION (the National Athletic Treatment, Injury and Outcomes Network). Kerr and his team evaluated concussion rates between 2011 and 2014 in 27 sports played at 147 high schools in 26 states across the U.S.
They found that there were four concussions in all sports per 10,000 athletes playing in both practices and competitions. In addition, per 10,000 athletes, there were:
- 9.21 concussions in football
- 6.65 concussions in boys’ lacrosse
- 6.11 concussions in girls’ soccer
Sixty percent of the boys’ concussions, and 40 percent of the girls’ concussions, were the result of player-to-player contact. The most common cause of concussions in girls was improper contact with their equipment.
The authors suggested that in soccer, there is a larger ratio between the size of the ball and girls’ necks as compared to the size of boys’ necks; this may explain the higher rate of concussions in girls’ soccer than in boys’ soccer.
Repeat injuries were reported in only three percent of the injuries; these were most common in girls’ field hockey, followed closely by football and girls’ lacrosse. No concussions were reported in the following sports: swimming and diving, cross-country, golf and boys’ crew.
Also, concussions were much more common — up to three times — when the athletes were competing, rather than just practicing.
Furthermore, injuries in high school athletes were higher in boys’ soccer and football than in collegiate athletes, suggesting the need for greater preventative measures, player training for safer blocking and tackling, and game rules preventing or limiting risky contact, and awareness among younger athletes.
Symptoms of concussions, which usually disappear in two weeks, include the following:
- Difficulty concentrating
- Sensitivity to noise or light
However, nearly 25 percent of these students required more than 28 days to recover.
Attorney Sean Domnick commented, “With more than eight million high school students playing sports every year, and more than two million of these students competing in high-risk sports, parents, schools and student-athletes need to be more aware of the risks associated with these activities and proactively prevent situations that will lead to injury.”