University of Michigan research shows that concussion or a violent shock as from a heavy blow may not significantly impair symptoms or cognitive skills for one gender over another.
Women may experience greater symptoms and poorer cognitive performance at preseason testing. The study involved 148 college athletes from 11 sports at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor. All had taken tests of learning and processing along with other measures of the brain's abilities, such as attention and working memory speed.
"The difference in performance between genders should be of great interest to athletes, coaches, athletic trainers, and doctors who utilize baseline assessments to aid recovery protocols," said study author Kathryn L. O'Connor from the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor.
The study will be presented at the Sports Concussion Conference in Denver. Of the participants, 45 percent were female, 51 percent played a contact sport and 24 percent had experienced a concussion. They had an average of 0.3 concussions, ranging from zero to four.
Women who have had a history of at least one concussion do not score lower on computerized cognitive baseline testing. Women reported on average 1.5 more symptoms and scored three points higher on symptom severity than men. On a clinical reaction time task, women were 19 milliseconds slower to react than men.
"This result that cognitive skills were not significantly affected by having a concussion for either gender should be reassuring to athletes who have experienced a concussion and wonder about its later effects," O'Connor said.