Concussion and the Female Brain
It has been well researched that male and female brains are different. Now research is explaining that concussions are a very different experience in a female brain. In a concussion the female brain has a 44% greater rate of acceleration increasing the incidence of concussion. There are also differences in neck circumference, girth and length as compared to males of the same age.
Female hockey players have the highest incidence of concussion and are concussed at 3 times the rate as male FOOTBALL players of the same age. Female lacrosse players come in second, however female lacrosse is a NON-CONTACT sport (their incidence is the same as male lacrosse which is a contact sport), this means that these women do not wear any protective gear to prevent or reduce the incidence of concussion. Girls’ Soccer comes next and is the second OVERALL in all youth sports. Softball and baseball have equivalent rates even though they are very different sports. Showing overall girls take a “bigger hit”.
Another difference between male and female athletes , is females report more concussion symptoms than their male counterparts, their symptoms last longer and have 4 times the migraine incidence than males of the same age!
SO why is this the case??
In a menstruating female (please note, girls as young as 6 can have hormonal fluctuations that would put them at the same risk as their older counterparts that have a menstrual bleed), hormones play a role in concussion pathology. If a girl sustains a concussion in the first two weeks of her menstrual cycle, when progesterone is high, there is a sharp, abnormal drop in progesterone and a sharp abnormal rise in cortisol. Progesterone withdrawal leads to headache, dizziness and nausea, and elevated cortisol, which can contribute to leaky gut. Then Estrogen levels will then slowly increase abnormally, which acts on the trigeminal vascular complex (the migraine pathway) it is apparent that female physiology would account for higher incidences of concussion symptoms and longer times for recovery in female athletes.
Unfortunately, ACL (anterior cruciate ligament of the knee) injuries are also more common is women. This is well reported due to posture and anatomy related to center of balance and hip structure. Approximately 85% of all ACL injuries are the result of a previous concussion. The ACL ligament is the stabilizer in the “righting reflex” (The righting reflex, is a reflex that corrects the orientation of the body when it is taken out of its normal upright position). When a concussion goes untreated the righting reflex is impaired as it initiated by the vestibular system in the brain.
SO how do you heal from a concussion??
First of all, keeping the body in optimal condition with a healing diet free of chemicals, artificial hormones, unnecessary pharmaceuticals & preservatives, drinking purified water, getting proper sleep, proper & safe exercise, and stress management will reduce help keep the body in optimal form and reduce the recovery period should a concussion occur.
Secondly, learn your sports teams’ concussion protocol (most have an outdated version of this) and watch your child during practices and games. You know her best and you can best protect her if you see her take a hit that looked harder than she anticipated.
If a concussion Happens
1) Immediately after a possible concussion offer something with natural sugar to the athlete. Sips of fruit juice or gummy bears (that is glucose and gelatin/collagen) flood the brain with immediate sugar to eliminate the build up of concussion containing neuro-chemicals.
2) Report the incident to your family physician as millions of concussions go undiagnosed and can lead to long term, or permanent symptoms for your child.
3) Take her to the chiropractor! Be sure you find a doctor certified in an updated concussion treatment protocol that include a test at baseline (this should be done before the incident. Kids in general should be under some form of maintenance chiropractic if they are playing sports. Many Chiropractors do a baseline test for concussions at the beginning of each school year)
4) Heal the gut! Estrogens cause leaky gut simply by the nature of the hormone! High cortisol, low progesterone and elevating estrogens is a leaky gut trifecta! Consider using specific strains of probiotics, immunoglobulins, or collagen to help heal and seal the gut.
5) Constantly check in with your athlete, ask she how she is feeling, sleeping and recovering. It is common to have “regressions” in healing with concussion recovery. Stay the course and know healing is possible.
In closing, Concussions are a very common sports injury. There are marked differences in how females and males exhibit symptoms. Keeping this in mind will help our daughters play their favorite sports healthy and injury free.