More Research Needed to Determine How Traumatic Brain Injuries Affect Women
Traumatic Brain Injuries, or TBIs, are one of the most common forms of serious injury resulting from accidents due to negligence, including car accidents and slip and falls. The Centers for Disease Control defines a TBI as a “disruption in the normal function of the brain that can be caused by a bump, blow, or jolt to the head.” Because most of the research done on TBIs up until now has focused on male patients, there is still much we do not know about how TBI uniquely impacts women.
A better understanding of how traumatic brain injury affects women differently will help scientists improve prevention and treatment strategies. This research will also help give a clearer idea of the medical challenges and loss of quality of life suffered by women seeking civil damages for head injuries caused by another party’s negligence or misconduct.
University of Illinois Researcher Eve Valera Researcher Eve Valera estimates that, in great part due to the prevalence of domestic violence, as many as 31 million women in the U.S. may have had at least one TBI, and that 21 million may have had multiple mild TBIs. She hopes that increased research in how TBIs affect women will encourage more women to seek care after sustaining a “seemingly minor” head injury.
TBIs Affect Women Differently
Scientists have observed sex-based differences in response to TBI:
- In ages 0-4, boys are 2x more likely to have a TBI than girls.
- In adolescence, female athletes are more likely to experience concussions.
- Women 65+ are most likely to experience mild TBI from falls.
- Head injury during the high progesterone luteal phase of menstruation is linked with a worse outcome.
- Female military veterans may encounter different symptoms in functional connectivity following TBI.
- Depression is one residual side effect of TBI that seems more pronounced in women than men.
TBIs in Women Linked to Alzheimer’s
If you’ve heard of Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE), it’s probably in reference to retired wrestlers, pro football or soccer players, who have sustained multiple concussions. CTE can manifest in many ways – memory or thinking impairments, confusion, personality changes, aggression, depression, suicidal thoughts, lack of focus, or balance and motor skill deficits. CTE can be a precursor to the development of Alzheimer’s or Dementia later in life.
Two-thirds of those who end up with Alzheimer’s later in life are women, which implies there may be a difference in the progression of head trauma.
CTE is not just a neurodegenerative disorder affecting elite male athletes – but one that affects women as well – often with particularly devastating consequences. Some of the worst cases are evident in women who have endured years of domestic violence. Women suffer silently after many incidents, never seeking professional treatment.
Women and Men Recover Differently from Head Trauma
The National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke says there are considerable gaps in our current knowledge, and more research is needed to determine the effects of reproductive hormones like estrogen or progesterone on the impact and recovery of brain injuries. Not only are the chemical compositions of male and female brains different, but the weight, fine structure, and functional brain anatomy also differ between men and women, though these factors have been poorly studied in post-injury research.
If you or a loved one has sustained a traumatic brain injury after an accident, you may be eligible for money compensation to cover medical bills and more. Protect your rights under the law by contacting Ellis Injury Law Firm for free, 24/7, to discuss your case.