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Study shows girls suffer more concussions than boys in high school sports

Girls suffer more concussions than boys when competing in high school sports and girls' soccer in particular is the most dangerous sport for head trauma, according to a newly-released study.

In a study released by the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons, three researchers studied data from 100 American high schools spread across 11 years to track the number of concussions reported against all other injury types. Overall, the researchers counted 6,399 concussions against 40,843 total injuries, with girls suffering a "significantly higher" rate of concussions than boys and girls' soccer standing out as the single most common sport for head trauma. "The study authors hypothesize that girls may face a greater risk of concussions and other injuries in soccer due to a lack of protective gear, an emphasis on in-game contact and the practice of 'headers'—hitting the ball with your head," the study reads.

"While American football has been both scientifically and colloquially associated with the highest concussion rates, our study found that girls, and especially those who play soccer, may face a higher risk," said lead author and Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine orthopedics professor Dr. Wellington Hsu. "The new knowledge presented in this study can lead to policy and prevention measures to potentially halt these trends."

Still, football checked in second among all sports.

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Rather than letting football off the hook, the study casts concussions as a serious challenge for all high school sports. The study found the rate of concussions to be increasing faster than the rate of growth across all high school sports. An estimated 300,000 concussions occur across all high school sports annually. "As children and adolescents have less cognitive reserve (a resistance to brain damage) than adults, a concussion may cause a greater risk for more severe symptoms, including headaches, memory loss, confusion and dizziness, and a prolonged recovery," the study states.