Don't discount a bump to the noggin that knocks you out during a soccer game: researchers report poorer than average thinking skills and reaction times in young soccer players, and particularly female players, who had just one concussion.
Concussions - usually marked by a loss of consciousness - may result in memory loss, slower reaction times, poorer thinking skills, and symptoms such as headache, dizziness, trouble balancing, and nausea. There may be as many as four million sports-related concussions per year.
But questions remain on the severity of a first, versus repeated concussions in male and female athletes, mostly because prior studies were a mix of body sizes, contact sports, and helmet use, note Dr Alexis Chiang Colvin, at Mount Sinai Medical Centre in New York, New York, and colleagues.
The study, in The American Journal of Sports Medicine, tested post-concussion memory, reaction times, and symptoms, in U.S. soccer players of similar body size.
How the study was done
Colvin's team assessed 141 female and 93 male soccer players from 8 to 24 years old, within two weeks of their concussion diagnosis. Overall, the 101 athletes with a history of prior concussion had poorer memory, ability to process visual images, and reaction times than did 133 athletes without a prior concussion.
Still, compared with male soccer players with concussion, females had significantly poorer - meaning slower - overall reaction time and a markedly higher number of symptoms.
Those findings remained true after adjusting for various factors such as age, grade level, and the number of days after the injury.
Colvin and colleagues call for more studies, particularly of the severity of concussion among female athletes. – (Reuters Health, September 2009)