Study leader Tracey Covassin, a certified athletic trainer, found females performed worse than males on visual memory tests and reported more symptoms post-concussion.
Additionally, high school athletes after concussions performed worse than college athletes on verbal and visual memory tests, and some of the younger athletes still were impaired up to two weeks after their injuries, Covassin said.
"This study confirms that age and sex have an impact on recovery, and future research should focus on developing treatments tailored to those differences," Covassin said in a statement. "We need to raise awareness that yes, female athletes do get concussions. Too often, when we speak with parents and coaches, they overlook the fact that in comparable sports, females are concussed more than males."
The study involved 300 concussed athletes from multiple states over a two-year period. All of the athletes had previously completed a baseline test before taking three post-concussion tests, the same ones used in professional sports, after being injured, Covassin said.
"Younger athletes appear more at risk for second-impact syndrome, where a second concussion can come with more severe symptoms," Covassin said. "While it is rare, there is a serious risk for brain damage, and the risk is heightened when athletes are coming back before they heal."
The findings were published in the American Journal of Sports Medicine.