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A disparity exists between males and females in concussion and head impact injury research. This means, in many cases, when it comes to female concussion, assumptions are made based on male subject samples.

In 2018, a study in the American Journal of Sports Medicine highlighted the increased risk of concussion suffered by female athletes compared to their male counterparts. Various reasons have been suggested for the differences and even increased severity of symptoms between males and females. This includes reduced muscular strength to cope with impacts through differing neurofunctionality.

In a sign that increasing attention is being paid to female sport, a recent study into the effectiveness of helmets in female lacrosse has been published by the University of Florida. It found that players that didn’t wear helmets had a 59% higher concussion rate than those that did. This research was based on the Florida state mandate to see all female high school lacrosse players wear a helmet, something not enforced by many other states in the USA.

Assistant professor Kathleen Bachynski, from Muhlenberg College in Pennsylvania, says the study shines a light on the seriousness of gender-specific research when it comes to head injuries.

“We have to include girls and women in studies and unfortunately, I think sports research is only just starting to catch up to that,". She went on to tell spotlight on America "You’re missing half the picture, I think if you’re not including half the population in your research.

“We have to include girls and women in studies and unfortunately, I think sports research is only just starting to catch up to that. You’re missing half the picture, I think if you’re not including half the population in your research."

Kathleen Bachynski

Assistant professor, Muhlenberg College

HITIQ has long believed in supporting both male and female athletes and the need for quality research to ensure the best care for all. This is why our partnership with Scottish rugby covers both men’s and women’s elite international teams. We also provide technology across the AFLW in Australia.

The first step to increasing the understanding and consequences of female concussion is, as Kathleen Bachynski mentioned, collecting the data.

Instrumented mouthguards provide the perfect tool for collecting real-world impact data. The study examining the use of helmets in lacrosse was possible because of different equipment rules in different parts of the country. However, mouthguards are compulsory. HITIQ is open to discussion with schools, colleges and federations to support projects, collect data and ultimately help protect players from concussion.

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