Female Brain Cells At Higher Risk for Concussion
During a simulated test mimicking the forces present in a concussion injury, researchers found that female axons (brain cells) were more likely to break and suffer injury.
The research study was done at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, and sheds light on a topic of great interest at a time when concussion awareness is on the rise.
The reason for the fragile nature of female axons in comparison, is likely due to a greater number of structural microtubule proteins present in male brain cells. Because of this, female axons suffered a greater extent of mechanical breaking, swelling, and ion influx, all of which are known contributors to concussion symptoms.
Aside from the cellular integrity, there are several other things that contribute to greater concussion incidence in women - like neck musculature, hormone dynamics, and neurobiological development.
Results like this can appear to be a threat, but awareness is good, and it's just the first step. By being more informed, women may be able to mitigate their higher risk by actively turning certain weak points in to strengths.
HOW TO DECREASE RISK OF INJURY
Studies have shown that the female neck musculature is slightly different than males, making it more likely for the head to whip violently during a fall or injury. This whip of the head shakes the brain more abruptly causing more damage to tissues, greater symptoms, and likely longer recovery time. By strengthening neck muscles, studies show both men and women can mitigate risk and suffer less injuries.
One study found that every 1 pound increase in neck strength decreased concussion risk by 5%.
Stay tuned for more information on this topic and more, coming soon.
Jean-Pierre Dollé, Andrew Jaye, Stewart A. Anderson, Hossein Ahmadzadeh, Vivek B. Shenoy, Douglas H. Smith, Newfound sex differences in axonal structure underlie differential outcomes from in vitro traumatic axonal injury, Experimental Neurology, Volume 300, February 2018, Pages 121-134, ISSN 0014-4886, https://doi.org/10.1016/j.expneurol.2017.11.001.
Eckner, James T. et al. “Effect of Neck Muscle Strength and Anticipatory Cervical Muscle Activation on the Kinematic Response of the Head to Impulsive Loads.” The American journal of sports medicine 42.3 (2014): 566–576. PMC. Web. 28 Nov. 2017.
Collins, C.L., Fletcher, E.N., Fields, S.K. et al. J Primary Prevent (2014) 35: 309. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10935-014-0355-2