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Concussions in Female Athletes

Concussions are receiving increased attention in sports medicine due to serious consequences that can result from brain injuries. Much of the focus has been on male athletes because of their higher engagement in contact sports like football. However, female athletes also play contact sports, including basketball, soccer and lacrosse. Even in sports that are not considered  contact sports, such as volleyball, collisions and other incidents leading to concussion can occur.  

Concussions in Female Athletes: What You Need to Know

Two female soccer players collide while trying to head a ball.
  • There is some evidence that female athletes and male athletes respond differently to concussions. Studies have shown that female athletes who sustain concussions are more likely to have more severe and longer-lasting symptoms than male athletes.
  • Women may experience more severe and longer-lasting concussion symptoms than men due to smaller neck size and therefore lower neck strength.
  • Unfortunately, there is little research on the reasons for more severe and longer-lasting symptoms in female athletes. Overall, gender issues in concussions are still a relatively understudied topic.

Our Experts

The concussion experts at the Johns Hopkins Women’s Sports Medicine Program are nationally recognized in their field and offer assessments and interventions tailored to the specific needs of female athletes, helping them return to play, work and school after a concussion.  

Rajwinder Deu, M.D. is a fellowship-trained primary care sports medicine specialist with extensive experience caring for concussed athletes and managing the safe return to sports. He is a team physician for Johns Hopkins University athletic teams and provides sideline coverage for injured athletes. He is available for in-office consultations at multiple Johns Hopkins Orthopaedics locations.

The Kennedy Krieger Institute Neurorehabilitation Concussion Clinic provides services for child through high school athletes and is codirected by Dr. Stacy Suskauer and Dr. Beth Slomine. Collegiate and adult athletes are provided services through the Johns Hopkins Brain Rehabilitation Program.

Both teams are involved in ongoing clinical and research efforts to better understand the effects of concussions on female athletes. In addition to medical and neuropsychological evaluation and rehabilitation, our experts offer educational seminars in academic and community settings to raise awareness about the symptoms and management of concussions including differences between male and female athletes.

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