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Researchers Find Symptoms of Sports-Related Concussions Linger Twice as Long for Adolescent Girls

Study Published in The Journal of the American Osteopathic Association Indicates Recovery May Be Complicated by Pre-Existing Conditions More Prevalent in Females

Adolescent female athletes suffer concussion symptoms twice as long as their male counterparts, according to a new study in The Journal of the American Osteopathic Association. Researchers found the extended recovery period may be due to underlying conditions including migraines, depression, anxiety and stress.

The research analyzed the medical records of 110 male and 102 female athletes, ages 11 to 18, with first-time concussion diagnoses. The median duration of symptoms was 11 days for boys and 28 days for girls. The data also showed that symptoms resolved within three weeks for 75 percent of boys, compared to 42 percent of girls.

“These findings confirm what many in sports medicine have believed for some time,” said lead researcher John Neidecker, DO, a sports concussion specialist in Raleigh, North Carolina. “It highlights the need to take a whole person approach to managing concussions, looking beyond the injury to understand the mental and emotional impacts on recovery when symptoms persist.”

Prior research has shown that concussions exacerbate some pre-existing conditions, including headaches, depression, anxiety and stress, all of which are more prevalent in girls and mirror hallmark concussion symptoms, according to a consensus statement from the 5th International Conference on Concussion.

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