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With football season, hockey season, and soccer season in full swing, one common injury that occurs often in all three sports is a concussion. Concussion injuries and symptoms can be scary for patients and because of that, staying educated on new trends of these injuries as well as seeking medical help when needed is critical. A concussion itself is a traumatic brain injury that affects brain function and ultimately can cause symptoms including headaches, problems with concentration, problems with memory, and altered balance function. Concussions are caused by blows to the head as well as violently shaking of the upper body. In addition to sports such as football, hockey, and soccer, unfortunately falls are the most common cause of a concussion. The good news is that most people recover fully after a concussion occurs, but care must be taken in order to ensure proper recovery from a concussion has occurred as a second concussion occurring can have severe consequences. 

Over the past couple of years, more research has taken place on how concussions rates are higher in women when compared to men. A recent study done by the American Journal of Sports Medicine has shown a disturbing disparity in the rate of concussions among young women when compared to men.  With the world seemingly turning their attention to head injuries and the long term effects that they may have, this recent study shows that women suffer concussions at twice the rate of their male counterparts in the same sport. 

Two common explanations have come to be supported by researchers and experts on why women suffer concussions at such a higher rate. One explanation is anatomical in nature which states that men have greater amounts of muscle mass around their head and neck area. This muscle mass limits the amount of motion of the neck and head and allows for it to absorb more contact when direct pressure is applied. The second explanation is related to social factors. Experts believe that cultural influences lead women to be more open to reporting concussions while men are not as likely due to the rough and tough “walk it off” style of sports. More research continues to be needed on the topic of disparities, but all of us must look out for friends and family members who could be exhibiting symptoms of a concussion. 

Physical Therapy is utilized often to treat concussions and to address the symptoms that occur as a result of the injury. An emphasis on reducing deficits in balance and vestibular issues is common with a lot of concussion treatments. Relieving tightness present in the neck as well as the upper back is also a common treatment which has shown to improve the symptoms present for concussions. Most importantly, every patient should have their own individualized treatment plan which prioritizes their goals. This will allow for successful short term and long term outcomes as they go throughout the recovery process. If you or someone you know is experiencing concussion-like symptoms or require physical therapy throughout the recovery process, reach out to your local ATR clinic to get the best outcome possible. Get Advanced !

Author: John Cichon, PT DPT at ATR Kirkwood.

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