Female Athletes Shake It UpFemales are more likely to have a concussion from sports injuries, but why? Is there a difference in the way the head and neck move between the sexes? Or maybe the nerves and muscles controlling the head and neck respond differently to trauma. That's what researchers at the Biokinetics Research Lab at Temple University in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, tried to find out in this study.
Twenty men and 20 women were part of this study. A motion analysis system was used to video head and neck movement. The head and neck was subjected to different speeds. Force was used to mimic different sport situations. Sometimes the subjects knew the force was coming. In other trials they didn't. EMG was used to measure muscle activity during the movement.
What they found is that women have less muscle mass as males. Muscle length is the same between the two groups. Women have faster head and neck movement and displacement during noncontact sports compared with men. Noncontact sports include soccer, baseball, and basketball.
Concussions in women are more likely even though they use more muscle power sooner to help hold the head and neck steady. Lower levels of strength, smaller neck girth, and less head and neck stiffness may increase a woman's risk of concussion when unexpected loads are applied to the head and neck.
The authors say improper muscle function is not the reason for differences in rates of concussions between men and women. Women may be able to increase neck girth and strength with a training program. This may help reduce the number of concussions during noncontact sports activities.
Ryan T. Tierney, et al. Gender Differences in Head-Neck Segment Dynamic Stabilization During Head Acceleration. In Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise. February 2005. Vol. 37. No. 2. Pp. 272-279.
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