Use Your Head: Girls and concussions

10:45 AM, May 20, 2010   |    comments
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Julia Rice is a sophomore soccer player. As she watches her schoolmates play lacrosse, she understands the dangers of a hard hit to the head.

"I went up for a header and I collided with one of the defenders and I tumbled, instead of tucking my head. My head hit the back of the turf and I just remember seeing black spots, being very disoriented," Julia says.

But she continued playing, something she regrets.

"I knew something happened and when I got off the field, I felt very nauseous and I still wasn't seeing as clearly," Julia remembers.

Her headache continued for days and she became depressed.

"Emotionally, I felt very introverted and didn't want to talk to anybody," Julia says.

Her symptoms are common for concussion. But for some reason, research indicates that in girls, symptoms may last longer, although treatment is the same.

"It's important to keep an eye on their activities and behaviors immediately afterwards because, again, that can change and fluctuate," says Dr. Paul Gubanich, a sports medicine researcher at Cleveland Clinic.

He adds that sometimes it may be hours or days later before symptoms appear. And while boys have more concussions overall, girls get their fair share.

"When you're looking at sports where girls and boys are playing the same sport, girls seem to be suffering more concussions than boys do," says Dr. Amanda Weiss-Kelly, head of pediatric sports medicine at Rainbow Babies and Children's Hospital.

There is another difference between the genders. Girls seem to be more likely to report problems and symptoms of concussion more honestly.

"We know that girls will report a higher incidence of concussion and that may be because they have a higher incidence of concussion or they're more willing to admit when they have one," says Larry Goodman, of the Laurel School Center for Research.

Julia took a month off from soccer and says she slept, a lot, which actually was the best medicine to help her recover.

Now she's back on the field.

"I know what could happen and I don't want it to happen again, so it's not that I play safe but I play smart," Julia says.


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