Women Longer to Recover from Mild Traumatic Brain Injury

May 11, 2015

Magnetic resonance imaging shows lower digit span scores among women with MTBI.

Women with mild traumatic brain injury (MTBI) take longer to recover than men, according to a study in Radiology

Researchers from Taiwan sought to evaluate differences between men and women with MTBI by using working memory functional MRI. Sixty subjects participated in the study: 30 men and 30 women. Fifteen men and 15 women had presented to the emergency department with MTBI from motor vehicle collisions, sports injuries, falls, or assault. Fifteen members of each group were controls.

Each patient underwent two imaging studies: the initial study, which was performed within one month after the injury, and a follow-up study, performed six weeks after the first study. Digit span and continuous performance testing (CPT) were performed on all subjects before functional MR imaging.

The results showed that while there were no significant differences in digit span or CPT among the 30 males, both MTBI group and control subjects, differences were found between the female MTBI subjects and controls. Those with MTBI had lower digit span scores than the control subjects. There was no significant difference in CPT results between the two groups of women.

“Among female participants, the total digit span score was lower in the MTBI group than in the control group,” the authors wrote. “In initial working memory functional MR imaging studies, hyperactivation was found in the male MTBI group and hypoactivation was found in the female MTBI group compared with control male and female groups, respectively. At the six-week follow-up study, the female MTBI group showed persistent hypoactivation, whereas the male MTBI group showed a regression of hyperactivation at visual comparison of activation maps.”[[{"type":"media","view_mode":"media_crop","fid":"35029","attributes":{"alt":"","class":"media-image media-image-right","id":"media_crop_808943943812","media_crop_h":"0","media_crop_image_style":"-1","media_crop_instance":"3728","media_crop_rotate":"0","media_crop_scale_h":"0","media_crop_scale_w":"0","media_crop_w":"0","media_crop_x":"0","media_crop_y":"0","style":"height: 169px; width: 300px; border-width: 0px; border-style: solid; margin: 1px; float: right;","title":"Working memory functional activation in healthy control subjects and patients with MTBI. Courtesy of Radiology. ©RSNA, 2015.","typeof":"foaf:Image"}}]]

The authors also noted that the male MTBI group had a higher initial ß value than the male control group and there was no significant difference between the male MTBI group and the male control group at follow-up evaluation. In the female MTBI group, average ß values at both initial and follow-up studies were lower compared with those in the female control group but were not statistically significant.

The authors concluded that females with MTBI had lower digit span scores than the female controls. They also found that there were sex differences in working memory functional activation.