A new study has found that younger athletes, and girls in particular, take longer to recover from concussions than older males.
Those were the findings of research published in the most recent issue of The American Journal of Sports Medicine, with the lead author being Tracey Covassin, an associate professor of kinesiology at Michigan State University.
The results of the study were widely reported by the media last Friday, including The New York Times and WebMD.
The study took place over five years, and it tracked high school and college athletes from California, Michigan, Louisiana and Tennessee, according to The Times. Covassin and her team gave the participants baseline cognitive and memory tests before the study started.
The youths in the group who suffered concussions were given three typical post-concussion tests, The Times reported.
In the wake of a concussion, high school athletes did worse than college athletes on the tests measuring verbal and visual memory according to WebMD.
“Girls and young women did worse than boys and young men on visual memory,” WebMD reported. “Girls and young women had more symptoms than boys and young men.”
The research found that college athletes took about seven days to recover from a concussion, while high school athletes could take as long as 14 days to recover, according to WebMD.
There are a number of theories as to why young athletes and female athletes take long to heal from a concussion. In terms of age, the brains of younger kids have not fully matured, and are more prone to injury.
The Times also quotes an expert who pointed out that young kids often had heads that are disproportionately large compared with their bodies. So their heads aren’t as stable on necks, which means that when they take a blow to the head, their heads shake a lot. Their brains then shift and band against their skulls, The Times reported.
As for why females take longer to recovery from concussion, the fair sex apparently has higher blood flows to the brain than males, which may make the symptoms and recovery worse, according to both The Times and WebMD.
The Times also reported that females’ higher estrogen levels may also play a part in girls taking longer to recover than males.