Concussions are still a much-discussed issue in sports, but the conversations tend to focus on football and hockey: men’s sports.
In reality however, the dangers of concussions are just as present in female athletes, even in non-contact sports.
Sports journalist Joanne Gerstner has written a book with renowned sports neurologist Jeffrey S. Kutcher called “Back in the Game: Why Concussion Doesn’t Have to End Your Athletic Career.”
In the book, they attempt to move the conversation of concussions in sports from fear to knowledge. Yes, there is always a risk when you play sports, but if you’re armed with knowledge and you’re aware of protocol and safety measures, there is a way to “proceed safely and have fun.”
Gerstner and Kutcher also discuss the fact that female athletes are just as likely to get concussions as their male counterparts.
“Hmm, we all have brains, we can get concussions, but people don’t watch women’s sports like they watch men’s sports. The lawsuits have been directed more at men’s entities than women’s entities. It stands to reason they would associate concussions with a guy’s thing, but it’s really not.” ~ Joanne Gerstner
Because women have less neck strength, as well as hormonal changes throughout the month, they may be even more susceptible to concussions. Whether it’s cheerleading, gymnastics, soccer or basketball, the risk is there for women and parents need to be aware of it.
It’s not only awareness – it’s the importance of acting on a potential problem when faced with it. The courage for a young girl to say she doesn’t feel right, or that a teammate seems off is extremely important. It’s having the confidence to say “No” when asked to play by a coach or parent after being hurt.
Ultimately, it comes down to the athlete. Everyone is an individual and their bodies react differently. It’s important for parents and coaches to be knowledgeable on concussion protocol, and to listen to athletes who must be empowered to say, “I’m hurt and can’t play.”