The football world is still buzzing from a recent study published by the Boston University School of Medicine and the VA Boston Healthcare System that revealed an overwhelming presence of CTE in the brains of deceased football players. This was troublesome news for former football players from all levels of the game who worried CTE might be more of a threat than previously thought. The reality is, though, the dangers of CTE extend far beyond football and athletes everywhere should continue to take concussions very, very seriously.
Football isn’t the only sport that can cause substantial damage to your brain and people tend to overlook that fact. If you take gender into account and calculate the percentage of injuries that are concussion related for each sport, football sits just fourth on the list. The Washington Post recently explained this in an article that highlights “girls soccer, girls volleyball and girls basketball” as the sports in which a concussion is most likely to be the injury you sustain.
Why do these non-contact sports cause such high percentages of concussions, particularly in girls?
There could be several reasons. The NCAA speculates that a “lack of protective equipment available for female athletes and an increased emphasis on physical play” may explain the numbers. Additionally, the NCAA highlights gender-based biological differences in “hormonal fluctuation” and “neck muscles” as reasons that may explain why girls soccer players are at a “2.1 x greater risk” of getting concussions than boys soccer players, for example. The problem is, so far, studies have focused on football, so athletes in other sports, especially girls, are left out of the research -- increasing their risk.
Regardless of why girls are experiencing such high percentages of concussions, we need to push for a greater understanding of how they play a role in each sport, at each level, and for each gender. Otherwise, years down the road, a study similar to the recent BU study, but for another sport, in either gender, could serve to prove the same point: concussions matter.
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