Mild traumatic brain injury (mTBI), specifically concussion, affects both men and women, but recently there has been growing research addressing brain injury in women. Studies suggest that women are more susceptible to brain injury, more likely to report injuries, and slower to recover from a concussion than males.
Looking to better understand why women seem to be at greater risk for concussion, researchers are investigating an increase in angular acceleration at the neck, especially in instances of two common causes of concussion in women—athletics and domestic violence. More active than ever in contact sports such as soccer, boxing, martial arts, rugby, and lacrosse, women athletes are increasingly reporting severe symptoms from a concussion. Further, although women can and do suffer a concussion from domestic violence, concussion is often missed due to symptom similarity to post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), depression, and anxiety. To date, most of the research around concussions is focused on sports. While gender-specific brain injury and recovery research are more recent, there remains a need for further investigation
Regardless of the cause of the mTBI, and for both women and men, concussion is difficult to diagnose in the emergency room for many reasons—delayed or no presenting symptoms, vague or inaccurate self-reported symptoms, and the lack of objective assessments. The clinician may order a head CT scan if a brain bleed is suspected, but functional impairment such as a concussion is undetectable on a head CT scan.
The FDA-cleared BrainScope device is currently in clinical use in the emergency room to provide decision support for clinicians. BrainScope assessments can not only aid in the timely detection of a potentially severe injury such as a brain bleed but can also objectively measure and scale with severity the likelihood of a concussion.
If you or a loved one has sustained a head injury due to athletic activity or domestic violence, seek immediate care at the nearest medical facility.
If you are interested in learning more about current sex and gender research in the field of brain injury, check out the Pink Concussions PINK X at 2021 Virtual World Congress on Brain Injury. The three-day conference will cover topics such as Why Sex and Gender Differences in Brain Injury Matter, and connecting Intimate Partner Violence and Women in Prison with Brain Injury.