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A new study from Taiwan reports that, based on brain scans, women are slower to recover from concussions than men with similar injuries. The study emphasizes the need for individualized treatment in brain injury cases.
Dr. Chi-Jen Chen and a team of scientists at Taipei Medical University Shaung-Ho Hospital have recently completed a study looking at the brains of concussion patients. They used functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) scans to look at 30 men and 30 women. Half of each category had suffered a concussion, either from falls, assaults, sports injuries, car crashes. The other half were healthy. The study compared one set of scans from one month after the injury and another set 6 weeks later.
Chen’s research showed that the area of the brain that handles “working memory” was more active in the male brain injury patients than the female brain-injury patients. Working memory is short-term memory. Steven Broglio, a brain researcher and director of the NeuroSport Research Laboratory at the University of Michigan in Ann Arbor, explains :
“For example, remembering the price of something when you take it off the shelf and to the register at a store.”
For the men scanned, the working-memory parts of their brain seemed to recover by the time they returned for the second scan after their concussion. They were functioning the same as they had been before the brain injury. But the women were still affected. According to Broglio:
“We know women have higher brain injury rates and longer recoveries, but we aren’t entirely sure why.”
This study underlines the importance of tailoring each patient’s treatment plan specifically to who he or she is, and to the injury sustained. Even though concussions are considered “mild” brain injuries, they can still have severe consequences if not properly addressed and treated. Continuing treatment and monitoring will help make sure the recovery is on track and progressing forward.
For women, who recover more slowly from concussions than men, the key to that treatment is rest. After a brain injury, it is important for women to take enough time off – both from physically demanding activities like sports, and mental challenges like schoolwork. If they don’t, they could be looking at an even longer recovery down the road.
David Christensen is a brain injury expert for Christensen Law in Southfield, Michigan. He and his team represent brain injury victims against the insurance companies who seek to limit their benefits and provide cookie-cutter solutions to individualized injuries. If you or someone you know has suffered a brain injury, contact Christensen Law today for a free consultation.