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Gender Differences in a Concussion Screening Tool

| By Dr. Jennifer Hunnicutt

Differences revealed in concussion symptom reporting between male and female adolescent athletes with sport-related concussion

The differences in symptoms reported after sport-related concussions between males and females is well documented.

Research has shown that females report greater number of symptoms and worse symptom severity compared to males. But it has also been documented that females tend to be more honest in concussion symptom reporting. This has been attributed to a number of factors, including sport and societal culture.

Clinicians treating concussions should be aware of these differences in order to deliver the best care to their patients.

A New Concussion Clinical Screening Tool

The Concussion Clinical Profiles Screening (CP Screen) tool is a new clinical screening assessment that is specific to concussion and provides clinicians with more information than the standard symptom screening tools. Patients complete the CP Screen by self-reporting symptoms. Then the tool calculates five concussion clinical profiles to classify patients following concussion. These profiles include anxiety/mood, cognitive/fatigue, migraine, vestibular, and ocular (vision). It also includes two additional sections to learn about sleep and neck symptoms.

Research on the Concussion Clinical Profiles Screening (CP Screen)

In a recent study, researchers wanted to discover the differences in symptom reporting and clinical profiles between males and females with sport-related concussion using the CP Screen. Consistent with previous research, the researchers hypothesized that females would report greater number of symptoms, greater symptom severity, and exhibit different profiles than males.

This study of the CP Screen was retrospective, meaning that researchers evaluated data and information that was collected in the past. This data and information came from the electronic health records of patients that were seen at a concussion clinic.

Patients were included if they were between the ages of 13 and 18 years (adolescents) with a diagnosis of sport-related concussion within 30 days of injury.

Research Results on the CP Screen

A total of 124 males and 152 females were included. They were very similar in terms of baseline demographics (history of concussion, depression, anxiety, etc.)

Consistent with the hypotheses, the researchers discovered the following:

  • Females reported a greater number of symptoms and worse symptom severity compared to males.
  • Females also scored higher (i.e., worse) on the following clinical profiles: cognitive/fatigue, anxiety/mood, and ocular.
  • Females had a significantly higher prevalence (2.6 times more than males) of the anxiety/mood clinical profile.

Takeaways

In closing, the CP Screen revealed differences in concussion symptom reporting between male and female adolescent athletes with sport-related concussion. Clinicians considering implementing the CP Screen should be aware of these gender differences when treating patients with concussions.

Results gathered from the CP Screen can be used to learn more about clinical profiles that may present after a concussion. This tool can be used to open conversation with patients to discuss mental health and persistent symptoms. In turn, this information can help guide clinicians in delivering optimized care to their patients.

References

Stephenson K, Womble MN, Frascoia C, Eagle SR, Covassin T, Kontos AP, Collins MW, Elbin RJ. Gender Differences on the Concussion Clinical Profiles Screening (CP Screen) in Adolescents with Sport-Related Concussion. J Athl Train. 2022 Apr 27. doi: 10.4085/1062-6050-0670.21. Epub ahead of print. PMID: 35476058.

Dr. Jennifer Hunnicutt
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