Concussions: Does race matter?

Concussions: Does race matter?
Concussions: Does race matter?(Ivanhoe Newswire)
Published: Jun. 6, 2022 at 6:54 AM CDT
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NASHVILLE, Tenn. (IVANHOE NEWSWIRE) - As many as 3.8 million sports-related concussions occur every year. A concussion is a brain injury caused by a blow or bump to the head. There’s lots of research that looks into which sports are more prone to concussions or how concussions differ among genders. But what about between races?

Hit, after hit, after hit, concussions are some of the most common sports-related brain injuries and recovery is dependent on many factors.

Scott Zuckerman, MD, MPH, a neurosurgeon at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, explained, “History of prior concussions and how symptomatic you are at presentation are two major factors related to your recovery.”

But what about race? In a study, researchers at Vanderbilt University Medical Center and the University of Alabama looked at white and Black athletes, ages 12 to 23, who were treated for a sports-related concussion.

Aaron Yengo-Kahn, MD, a neurosurgeon at Vanderbilt University Medical Center, detailed, “We found that Black athletes were reporting earlier recovery than white athletes.”

On average, Black athletes in the study reported fewer concussion symptoms and experience symptoms for 12 days compared to 21 days for white athletes. Black athletes also returned to school quicker. The data is making the researchers question whether there is a psychosocial factor involved in recovery.

Dr. Zuckerman wondered, “What are their families telling them about recovering from a sport’s concussion? What are their schools, what are their coaches telling them about concussions?”

Suggesting that certain cultural aspects may lead some athletes to appear to recover faster to get back to sports quicker. However, not getting proper concussion information when it comes to recovery may have damaging long-term effects, such as memory and concentration problems. These researchers believe that this study is just the tip of the iceberg.

Dr. Zuckerman continued, “We are just really at the beginning of scratching the surface on how important race is in how it’s related to concussions.”

The team did also look at Latino and Asian players, but there were not enough numbers to include in the study. The researchers performed this study twice and received similar outcomes.

Their next steps include getting data directly from the field instead of waiting until athletes come into the clinic as they suspect some concussions are not being diagnosed properly.

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