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More research is needed to understand concussions in women

  • January 31, 2017
  • by Will Davidson LLP
  • accident, brain injury, brain injury lawyer, concussion, head injury, head injury lawyer, injury lawyer, Ontario personal injury lawyer, personal injury, personal injury law, Personal Injury Lawyer, slip and fall, slip and fall lawyer, Toronto personal injury lawyer, Will Davidson LLP,

Concussions are a deeply misunderstood injury. Their symptoms can be vague, they are notoriously difficult to diagnose, and they are burdened with the stigma of not being particularly ‘serious.’ In the world of professional sports, concussions were until recently viewed as minor injuries, annoyances that tougher athletes would happily play through. While savvy researchers, brain injury lawyers, and activists have long spoken about the dangers of concussions, it is only in recent years that society at large has caught on.

Today, all four major North American sports leagues enforce strict diagnostic protocols for players experiencing concussion-like symptoms, and wide-reaching lawsuits have been launched by ex-players whose post-career lives have been damaged by repeated head injuries. In Ontario, Rowan’s Law was passed in 2016 to protect student-athletes from concussions. The law is named for Rowan Stringer, an Ottawa-area high school rugby player who passed away after sustaining multiple concussions in a single week. The law has been heralded as an important step forward by law makers and brain injury lawyers alike.

But despite wider acknowledgment of the inherent dangers of concussion – particularly among young people – further research on the subject is sorely needed, especially regarding the impact of concussions on women.

Katherine Snedaker is the founder of PINK Concussions, a non-profit advocacy group pushing for more research on female concussions. The majority of existing concussion studies focus heavily on men, and male athletes in particular, despite the fact that some studies suggest women are more susceptible.

“There are all these different theories out there about why concussions are higher in women than in men, but we don’t really know why,” Dr. Zachary Kerr, an assistant professor in the University of North Carolina’s exercise and sports science department, told the CBC. “We need more data collection. We need more surveillance at all levels. We need to get more information out there.”

Female-oriented research would not only help doctors better understand women and girls’ susceptibility to concussions, but could also produce new strategies for avoiding head injury and improving care for those women who have already been injured. Snedaker told the CBC that many of the concussion victims she spoke with shared stories of healing at a slower rate than their doctors expected, or of healthcare providers ‘minimizing their conditions.’

“These girls had been cycled through the medical community and kind of spit out,” Snedaker said. “What totally got me were these women who were isolated and alone.”

Regardless of gender, concussions can be serious injuries: repeated concussions can cause neurological disorders or, in rare cases like Rowan Stringer’s, death. Comprehensive research can help doctors, brain injury lawyers, policy makers and activists understand these injuries more fully and provide better care to victims.

If you or a member of your family has experienced a concussion or other form of traumatic brain injury, contact the brain injury lawyers at Will Davidson LLP today for a free, no-obligation consultation. Our team can help you understand whether legal action could expedite your recovery, and guide you on your road to recovery.

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