A comprehensive research on the effects of concussions and head trauma on female athletes is about to commence. This will be the first research of its kind in Iceland. Mbl reports.
Headed by Helga Ágústa Sigurjónsdóttir, a specialist in metabolic diseases, sports scientist Hafrún Kristjánsdótir and psychologist María Kristín Jónsdóttir, the research focuses on both psychological effects as well as the pituitary gland in the brain.
“The effects of head trauma in sports on the pituitary gland hasn’t been researched properly. We know that permanent damage to the pituitary gland occurs to about 11-67% of those who receive head trauma, according to recent studies. There has to be the same ratio for those who are injured in sports, although we can’t say for certain and that is what we aim to solve,” Helga told Mbl. Among important factors to research is whether children should be heading balls with full force and how multiple head blows can impact them.
Helga warns that although research has progressed over the years, there are still no international regulations or guidelines for people who’ve received head trauma. She hopes that will change after their research. “We also want to make sure that the safety of athletes is held at the forefront because head injuries like these can affect them all their lives.”
According to Hafrún, men should be allowed back into the playing field after a minimum of seven days, while women need at least ten days. “Head trauma seems to affect women more than men. We don’t exactly know why that is.” Hafrún knows about multiple instances in which players are allowed to continue playing a few minutes after receiving a concussion. “It’s absolutely unacceptable. Every year we see concussions aren’t being treated correctly.”
The research will involve at least 50 female football- and handball players between the ages of 30-45, all of whom have received head trauma while playing. Men might be involved in the research as well, which will focus on the psychological and neuropsychological aspects. Some women will also be tested for possible hormonal damage.
“It can be difficult to distinguish between damage to brain cells and a lack of hormones. We can’t determine that without examining it and measuring hormones. That’s something you can’t do with interviews or body examinations,” Helga said. “We believe we’re doing research that’s never been attempted at this magnitude.”
The research has already received major funding from the Landspítali University Hospital, although it still requires more. According to Helga, grant applications are currently being increased.