Small Study Finds Significant Incidence and Underreporting of Adolescent Concussion in Females

Previous editions of the Daily Dose have reported on examinations of the incidence of concussion and mild traumatic brain injury in male athletes at various scholastic levels. A new study of high school age female athletes suggests that a similar level of underreporting and treatment/prevention response is occurring in this population as well. The research, undertaken by clinicians at the University of Kansas Hospital, Kansas City, examined 77 female athletes and found that 31, or 40%, stated a belief that they had sustained a sports-related concussion, and 58, or 75%, reported symptoms consistent with concussion following traumatic head injury. Only one-half or fewer of these reported the experience to their coach or trainer, according to the findings. The study appears in the Journal of Trauma Nursing.

Differentiating by sports activity, the study found that basketball players were slightly more likely than soccer players to report diagnosed or suspected concussion, with symptoms that included headache, dizziness, blurred vison, and sensitivity to noise or light. 10% reported symptoms persisting for a week or longer.  Lead author Tracy McDonald, MSN, RN, CCRN, commented, "Our results suggest that, most of the time, the athlete who is experiencing symptoms of a concussion doesn’t even recognize it as a concussion. Even when they do recognize it as a concussion, they are unlikely to report it to seek help." While acknowledging limitations in their work, including small sample size, the authors assert that their findings emphasize the need for more and better concussion education targeting adolescent athletes of both sexes.

A news story about the study, with link to the full report, may be found here.

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