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Too many girls return to play same day after concussion in football

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Girls who play football are much more likely than boys to return to play the same day following a sports-related concussion, putting them at risk for more significant injury.

According to findings presented at the American Academy of Pediatrics 2017 National Conference & Exhibition, more than half of girls in a study resumed playing in a game or practice the same day as their injury, compared to just 17% of boys.

Researchers examined young athletes, with an average age of 14, who sustained a concussion while playing soccer (football) and who were treated at a paediatric sports medicine clinic in Texas. Of the 87 athletes diagnosed with a sports-related concussion, two-thirds (66.7%) were girls. Among them, more than half (51.7%) resumed playing in a game or practice the same day as their injury, compared to just 17.2% of boys.

“The girl soccer players were five times more likely than boys to return to play on the same day as their concussion,” said Shane M. Miller, MD, FAAP, senior author of the abstract and a sports medicine physician at Texas Scottish Rite Hospital for Children. “This is cause for concern, especially with previous studies showing that girls suffer twice as many concussions as boys.”

Medical organisations caution against returning to play on the same day, Dr Miller pointed out.

“Despite increased concerns about the risks of concussions, the culture among athletes to tough it out and play through an injury often takes priority over the importance of reporting an injury and coming out of a game or practice,” he said.

“Concussion recognition and identification is a team effort,” said Aaron Zynda, the abstract’s lead author and Texas Scottish Rite’s clinical research coordinator. “Athletes, parents, coaches and medical staff need to come together to prevent premature return to play.”