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Why don't female student athletes report suspected concussions?

Results of a recent study published in the Journal of Trauma Nursing should be of concern to parents of young female student athletes. Researchers found that a significant number of female high school athletes don't notify trainers or coaches of a possible concussion.

While the rate of unreported symptoms appears to be lower than for male athletes, it is troubling because there's evidence that female athletes may be at greater risk for concussion than their male counterparts. Further, they take longer to recover from a concussion.

Of the 77 girls surveyed, 31 reported that they believed they'd suffered a concussion at some point. Of those, 10 said they didn't report it. Their reasons for not reporting it included wanting to stay in the game and believing that it "wasn't a big deal."

In all, 58 girls in the survey said that they'd had symptoms associated with a concussion after experiencing traumatic contact. However, they didn't suspect a concussion. Researchers determined that this underreporting is linked to "a limited understanding of the risks associated with concussion injuries."

A third of the students said that they'd received no education on concussions as part of their athletic program or their regular curriculum. The researchers concluded that "uniform, evidence-based educational symptoms across youth sports programs, regardless of sex, may lead to improved concussion reporting and ultimately fewer secondary complications."

Prompt reporting of symptoms and taking the athlete out of the game are essential to helping avoid serious complications. These include headache, blurred vision, dizziness and sensitivity to noise or light.

Parents of student athletes should make sure that their kids are aware of the symptoms of a concussion and tell them to be sure to report those symptoms to a coach or trainer immediately. They should also work to ensure that the adults who are responsible for the team take these reports seriously and take action. No student athlete should be penalized for reporting a possible injury of any type.

Schools, athletic programs, coaches and trainers have a responsibility for the safety of these young people. When they fail in that responsibility, they can and should be held legally responsible.

Source: News-Medical.net, "Study reveals many female high school athletes do not report concussion injuries to trainers," Sep. 29, 2016

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