Do Brain Injuries Affect Women and Man  Differently?

Do Brain Injuries Affect Women and Man  Differently?

New technologies have generated a growing pile of evidence that there are inherent differences in how men’s and women’s brains are wired and how they work.

Where it has been studied, anyone can suffer a brain injury in a serious accident. These injuries are often caused by a jolt to the head or penetration of the skull that impairs the brain’s functions. We see this frequently occur in auto accidents, falls, sport, construction accidents, and acts of violence.

The victims of traumatic brain injuries can suffer from symptoms, such as processing information,  severe headaches, slurred speech, dizziness, blurry vision, nausea, vomiting, confusion, light or noise sensitivity, loss of coordination, and emotional problems. Symptoms can manifest themselves differently depending on the severity of the injury. Research indicates that men and women can also experience these brain injuries differently, particularly when it comes to concussions.

How Are Brain Injuries Different for Women?

Researchers are working to better understand the differences among males and females when it comes to traumatic brain injury. Studies have evaluated medical research and identified some of the ways that brain injuries are different among women. Women tend to suffer from more symptoms that last longer. According to research on concussions among athletes, women may experience symptoms of these brain injuries as long as three or four weeks. Men, on the other hand, may recover from this type of injury within 10 to 14 days.In addition to higher rates of concussion among females, females  report a higher number of symptoms and more severe symptoms after brain injury than males.

Were they more likely report headaches, dizziness, and loss of confidence after a concussion than men. Women were also more likely to report a lack of initiative and a need for supervision that became significantly problematic in daily functioning post-head-injury.

Weaker muscles may play a part by females.  According to one study, women generally have shown to have weaker neck muscles, which could result in a greater impact to the head.

Hormones can affect recovery where the  woman’s menstrual cycle can have a major effect on her recovery. Research has shown this is because when hormone levels, particularly progesterone, are high, brain injury symptoms are worse. When  more specific women receive a blow to the head during the last two weeks of their cycle, production of progesterone tends to slow, which therefore creates a sense of withdrawal that makes the symptoms of a concussion like headaches, nausea, and dizziness worse.

Nerve fibers
When someone suffers a concussion, the nerve fibers are stretched rapidly. However, the nerve fibers stay intact and it is the microtubules that rupture and break from the force. Studies have found that with a concussion, female nerve fibers dramatically swell more than male nerve fibers. This was noticed within a 24-hour period. The confirmation of this  study has been done by Penn Medicine published in the journal, Experimental Neurology.

More Research Needs to Be Done
Unfortunately, research on how women experience brain injuries is much sparser than data on men.As reported: “The majority of research done on gender differences in traumatic brain injuries is based on athletes, which may or may not translate to the general population or people who get concussions outside of sports. More scientific research is needed in this area.

What Women and Parents of Girls Should Know About Concussions

While scientists try to better understand how males and females are affected by concussions. During this process there is still a lack of female-specific guidance, protocols, and plans of care for girls and women with a traumatic brain injury. Because of this, it’s important there is awareness there is a different recovery process most likely for females so when they are doubtful of themselves when the speed of recovery and severity of symptoms following a concussion do not match the experience of males they may know.

Parents, coaches, and school staff should be alert to listen to girls and women and the symptoms they report after a brain injury.
Were we have heard that “In our group with women with more severe levels of injury severity, women tend to feel more dismissed by care providers,”