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Concussions reach far beyond football with girls more at risk

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No matter the sport, injuries are a part of any athletic activity. But when it comes to head injuries suffered in a sport, most people immediately think about football.

However, when it comes to concussions, in a study by MedStar Sports Medicine, researchers found that girls in sports have a higher prevalence of sustaining a concussion. Most of the time, without even realizing they have gotten one.

When I got the phone call from Lexie’s dad, my husband I was shocked and scared. But luckily the trainers were there on the soccer fields and they handled it really well,”

— mom Wendy McGrady

Baylor Scott and White sports neurologist Dr. Erin Reynolds is the director of sports concussion program at The Star in Frisco. In her practice, she sees athletes of all levels who have suffered a concussion, from youth to professionals.

“I see more girls overall, and there is some research that suggests that girls are more likely to return to play or stay in play than boys are,” Reynolds said. “Girls are not only at a higher risk of receiving concussions but they are more prone to having complex recoveries. There are two theories to that so one is about neck strength, so if someone has a stronger neck, think boys have a stronger neck than girls, their head won’t bounce around as much. But there’s also a theory that girls are also more prone to concussion because of hormonal changes that they go through from puberty to menopause and with that  hormonal fluctuation they are prone to migraine headaches and we think that they may be related to concussions as well.”

Girls are 12 percent more likely to sustain concussions due to weak neck muscles. With this, concussions in girls’ soccer has increased 19 percent from 2006 to 2014. For senior soccer player Lexie McGrady, these statistics are more than just numbers, they are a reality.

“I’ve had three concussions total with club and school,” Lexie said. “The first one happened, I was in club soccer and it was kind of like a 50/50 ball, the girl kind of caught my cleat and I fell backwards onto my back and then hit my head on the ground and got whiplash and that was the worst one I’ve ever had. The second one happened I was also in club. I was defending a cross and this girl comes running full speed at me and elbows me in the jaw, I thought I broke my jaw but I didn’t. I fell down onto the ground and hit my head again, and then the third time it happened I was actually playing for the school I was a sophomore and I was pressuring a girl from behind, she fell over, I fell over her, she tried to punch me in the face and as I was falling I hit my head on the ground.”

I think it definitely has affected me in the classroom not just on the field. Before I had my concussions I could very easily focus and now its not as easy and also remembering things, my memory has gotten a lot worse since my concussions,”

— senior Lexie McGrady

For Lexie’s mom, Wendy, the news of her daughter receiving a concussion was overwhelming.

“When I got the phone call from Lexie’s dad, my husband I was shocked and scared,” Wendy said. “But luckily the trainers were there on the soccer fields and they handled it really well.”

Though Lexie chose to continue to play, she realizes the effects that the concussions have had on her not only on the field, but in the classroom as well.

“I think it definitely has affected me in the classroom not just on the field,” Lexie said. “Before I had my concussions I could very easily focus and now its not as easy and also remembering things, my memory has gotten a lot worse since my concussions.”

After suffering three concussions, Lexie’s mom was hesitant to let her return to play knowing the consequences that could follow shortly behind.

“I made her wear the headgear but you know we thought three strikes and she is out as the saying goes but you know touch word,” Wendy said. “Everything seems to be good.”

Although Lexie was advised to stop playing and doctors made her aware of the dangers of sustaining another concussion, Lexie’s love of the game won out.

“Yeah for sure the doctors suggested it,” Lexie said. “They recommended it, but since the third one wasn’t really that bad I took it as a minor concussion and kinda thought I have about two years left of soccer I’m going to finish it out and if I get another one then I have to quit.”

 

About the Contributor
Mady Daddario, WTV Sports Producer
Mady Daddario is a senior and the sports producer for Wingspan. She is an OG Wingspaner and has been in the program since it started. She enjoys being in front of the camera and plans on majoring in broadcast journalism at Oklahoma University next year (boomer!) In her free time she enjoys getting gains at...
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Concussions reach far beyond football with girls more at risk