Do concussions affect women and men differently? Is one sex more susceptible to concussion than the other? The answer is, yes.
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One of the questions often asked is who is more susceptible to a concussion: men or women?
Women are More Susceptible to Concussion
Women more susceptible to having worse symptoms and more susceptible to having those symptoms last longer. And let me tell you why.
3 Reasons Why Women are More Susceptible to Concussion
Women’s Head Size
Women tend to have smaller heads than men. Let me give you an example of what I mean here. So take soccer ball. The soccer ball is a standard size, right? But that ball is hitting a man’s head with the same force as a woman’s head.
So if a woman’s head is smaller, that force is transferring over a smaller area, meaning that each part of the head and each cell in the brain is getting more of a force. And that’s true for really any impact.
A man’s head is just bigger and it can dissipate the force over greater area.
Women Tend to Have Weaker Muscles
The second reason why women might suffer more concussions or have worse symptoms is because we typically have weaker muscles.
So we have weaker neck muscles and weaker shoulder muscles. So again, when we have an impact to our head, our shoulders can’t absorb the impact as much as a man’s shoulder. This is called the shoulder girdle, and also weaker neck muscles.
So women are going to sustain a greater head/neck angular acceleration. So because of the weaker neck muscles, our head is gonna go back and go forward to a higher degree than a man’s head or a person with stronger neck muscles.
And the third reason is what all women love to talk about, and that’s hormones. It turns out that when women are in the second half of their menstrual cycle, the estrogen is higher and the progesterone gets higher.
So if women are injured in the last two weeks of their cycle when progesterone is higher, that can lead to worse post-concussion symptoms compared to women who are injured during the first two weeks, or who are on contraceptive pills that regulate and keep those levels a little bit more flat.
So unfortunately, yes, women are more susceptible to concussions, as well as more susceptible to having worse symptoms and to having those symptoms last longer.
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