Almost all the information health care professionals have concerning the effects of concussions come from brain banks that contain mostly the brains of men, STAT reports. Meanwhile, research indicates that the reaction and trauma experienced by women athletes who have concussions are different than what men experience.
Katherine Snedaker founded the not-for-profit PINK Concussions in 2013 to deal with the issue. She tells STAT: “If concussion is the invisible injury, then females are the invisible population within that injury.”
Women may actually benefit from gender specific information about concussions, the way they do by such information about heart disease. But for concussions, the data simply aren’t there. Some studies do show that the female brain reacts differently then the male brain to concussion. Unfortunately, many of these studies are too small and poorly controlled.
Jeffrey Bazarian, a concussion expert at the University of Rochester, tells STAT that the hormonal cycle may plan a role; that women who suffered concussions two weeks before their period experience slower recovery and poorer outcomes than those concussed two weeks after their period. In addition, the necks of women athletes tend to be thinner and weaker than the necks of men and can make women prone to migraines, which can have similar affects as concussion.
Help may be on the way. The National Institutes for Health now requires that all research that it funds addresses sex and gender.