Gender Differences in Recovery After Mild Traumatic Brain Injury

Nurse with Hands on Patient

Past research has shown that there are significant differences between men and women after a traumatic brain injury—from differences in body composition or metabolism to differences in psychological outcomes. But the evidence supporting these differences is limited and sometimes conflicting.

A major systematic review of research in mild traumatic brain injury recovery used data from hundreds of studies to better determine the quality of evidence supporting differences between men and women. Using a “best evidence” rating, they found that women were at a higher risk of developing epilepsy or dying by suicide after mild traumatic brain injury. Men were at higher risk for developing schizophrenia. Women were more likely to use health services than men. There were no significant differences, however, in outcomes for returning to work, postconcussion syndrome, dementia, or brain tumor.

Although these findings were based on the strength of data combined from many studies, further research may help put these findings in context. For instance, differences in populations or health status prior to the brain injury may provide explanations for the causes of these differences. There may still be benefit, however, in recognizing gender differences in terms of planning long-term care after a traumatic brain injury.

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