Women may be at higher risk of basketball concussions

Published: Jan. 10, 2018 at 9:45 PM CST
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"Basketball actually is the number two cause of concussions in the United States behind football," CoxHealth sports medicine specialist Dr. Shannon Woods said.

That's a distinction some basketball coaches weren't aware of.

"We don't worry a lot about concussions most of the time,” Walnut Grove girls basketball coach Rory Henry said. The Walnut Grove girls basketball team has been to the state final four six years in a row. “You just think about football when that stuff goes on."

But just a week ago, Missouri State forward Audrey Holt called it a career following her 14th concussion.

"There's no one number that is used as the 'this is the ultimate number after which you should retire, or after which this is too many,'" Dr. Woods said.

"Most of them happen - I'll just be running in for an offensive board and I'm going headfirst to the basket where all the other people are and it just happens," Holt said last week.

Even though basketball isn't thought of as a contact heavy sport, it can be easy to see how a player flying towards the rim and maybe landing on the hardwood floor could get hurt. And it seems that women maybe at a higher risk.

"Women tend to get longer symptoms, post-concussion symptoms - that is a concussion that takes a long time to get better,” Dr. Woods said. “That is more common in women than in men, though it can happen in either gender."

Dr. Woods also says that it's possible men are more susceptible than we think, but aren't as forthcoming.

"Some people speculate that women are more in tune with their bodies, meaning that women are more honest with their symptoms and less likely to hide it," he said. "Some people think it has to do with the neck musculature. Maybe women have less neck musculature, which could make them more vulnerable to have their brains shaken, perhaps."

The Walnut Grove Lady Tigers are cognizant of concussions.

"The state has made it an important topic,” Henry said. “It's important enough that all of our coaches are trained on it and we put it in packets and give it to our athletes and parents to make sure they know the signs and symptoms and things of a concussion. So, it's definitely something in the last 5-10 years that has become more of a topic of conversation among college coaches as well.”

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