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Concussion symptoms differ between sexes

WASHINGTON, Dec. 7 (UPI) -- Male and female U.S. high school athletes present different types of symptoms after experiencing a sport-related concussion, researchers say.

Study author R. Dawn Comstock, an associate professor at The Ohio State University College of Medicine, says more than 7 million U.S. high school students participate in organized interscholastic athletics each year, and high school athletes sustain an average of 21 percent of the estimated 1.6 million to 3.8 million sport-related concussions that occur annually. More than 5 percent of all high school athletes who participate in football, lacrosse, hockey and other contact sports suffer a concussion each year.

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Males participate in sports at a higher rate than females -- in 2008, 41 percent of high school athletes were female -- yet female athletes are more likely to suffer sport-related concussions.

Athletes often reported different types of symptoms, depending on their gender. Males reported amnesia and confusion/disorientation more frequently than females, while females reported more drowsiness and greater sensitivity to noise than males.

"Physicians, athletic trainers, coaches and parents should understand that each symptom of a possible concussion must be evaluated, monitored and fully resolved, before an athlete returns to play," Comstock says in a statement. "Ongoing neurocognitive assessments, balance measurements, symptoms, a physical examination and other criteria can be used collectively to evaluate concussions and ensure an athlete is ready to return to the playing field."

The findings are scheduled to be published in the January issue of the Journal of Athletic Training and presented at the Youth Sports Safety Summit in Washington.

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