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Concussions: Girls Have Longer Recovery Time

High School Athletes Also Take Longer Than College Athletes to Recover, Researchers Find

Concussion, Gender, and Age: Study Details continued...

"Our high school athletes took longer to recover than college athletes," Covassin says. "The college athletes had recovered by seven days. All [high school and college athletes] went back to normal within 14 days." She cannot pinpoint exactly when the high school athletes recovered.

Exactly why girls have more symptoms is not certain, Covassin says. Some researchers suggest that women's greater rate of blood flow in the brain compared to men's may somehow make the symptoms worse and last longer.

Based on her new findings, teachers and coaches may need to make some accommodations for the athletes whose symptoms are worse and recovery slower, Covassin says.

Some athletes may need to be excused from classes for a few days after concussion, she says.

The study was funded by the National Operating Committee on Standards for Athletic Equipment.

Concussions in High School, College Athletes: Perspective

The new research confirms earlier findings and adds to growing research about gender differences, says Gillian Hotz, PhD, director of the concussion program and professor of neurological surgery at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine.

She reviewed the findings for WebMD.

Educating parents, coaches, and youth is key, she says. A crucial message? "If you get a headache [after a hit], pull yourself out," she tells young athletes.

Too often, she says, kids, encouraged by parents and coaches, will play through the pain. "I get parents in my clinic who say, 'They have to play, they have to play,' and they are still recovering from a concussion," Hotz says.

Concussion Education

Parents can be on the lookout for symptoms in their young athletes, Covassin says. Symptoms may come on later, not right after the hit, she says.

As for young athletes, "they need to understand that they need to tell someone [about the hit]." Boys are more likely to play through than are girls, she says.

About 35 states, the District of Columbia, and the city of Chicago have passed youth concussion laws, according to a tally by the National Football League, which supports the effort.

The laws require:

  • Young athletes, parents, and guardians to sign an information form about concussions.
  • Removal of young athletes from play or practice if a concussion is suspected.
  • Clearance from a health care professional trained in concussions before an athlete can resume play or practice.
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