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Concussions under-reported in young female athletes

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US researchers have found that almost half of female athletes participating in high school sports have had a diagnosed or suspected concussion, but many did not report their symptoms to a coach or trainer.

The study, published in the Journal of Trauma Nursing, included 77 high school female athletes. Participants were asked about their experience with sports-related head injuries and concussion symptoms and 31 said they believed they had sustained a concussion — a rate of about 40%.

However, 10 of these athletes did not tell a coach or trainer about their symptoms. This, they said, was because they thought the injury “wasn´t a big deal”, they wanted to keep playing, or they thought the symptoms wouldn´t last long.

Overall, three quarters of the athletes (58 out of 77) said they had experienced some type of symptom consistent with concussion after traumatic contact.

Headache was the most frequent symptom, followed by dizziness, sensitivity to light or noise, and blurred vision. Symptoms lasted less than a day in two-thirds of athletes, but 10% had symptoms lasting a week or more.

“Even though the majority of these students did not associate those symptoms with having a concussion, they likely did,” commented lead author Tracy McDonald from The University of Kansas Hospital, Kansas City.

“Our results suggest that, most of the time, the athlete who is experiencing symptoms of a concussion doesn´t even recognise it as a concussion,” McDonald added. “Even when they do recognise it as a concussion, they are unlikely to report it to seek help.”

The researchers pointed out that prompt reporting of symptoms is essential to identify possible concussions and remove the injured athlete from play or practice.

Only two-thirds of athletes in the study had received concussion education, and such education appeared to have no relationship with diagnosed concussion rates in athletes, removing athletes from play, or follow-up medical care after injury.

More effective concussion education programmes for young athletes may lead to improved concussion reporting and ultimately fewer secondary complications, the study authors concluded.

http://wolterskluwer.com/company/newsroom/news/2016/09/concussions-in-female-high-school-athletes %E2%80%94frequent-but-under-reported.html

http://journals.lww.com/journaloftraumanursing/Abstract/2016/09000/Underreporting_of_Concussions_and_Concussion_Like.3.aspx