Sex differences in function after traumatic brain injury (TBI) has been understudied. Men have a marginally higher incidence of TBI (~54% of TBI related emergency department visits, hospitalizations, and deaths; Taylor et al. 2017) and the literature disproportionately reflects this trend as the majority of studies investigate only male animal models or male cohorts of athletes. According to the CDC, women account for approximately 46% of all TBI, however, few studies focus on females or include female animals. Even fewer studies investigate sex differences in functional outcomes or the functional differences in molecular and cellular changes after injury. Of the studies that have investigated sex differences in animal models of brain injury, the results are inconsistent. While some studies report no sexual dimorphisms in TBI models, one study found injured female mice have larger working memory deficits and increased motor activity as compared to males. Another study showed injured male mice had more neuronal pathology in the hippocampus and prefrontal cortex than females. Several clinical studies report a higher incidence of concussive symptoms in women versus men after injury. A meta-analysis looking at sex as a prognostic factor for outcome after TBI found differences in incidence of neuropsychiatric symptoms. The authors ultimately concluded that more studies specifically investigating sex differences are need. This session would highlight studies that focus on sex differences after injury and give clinicians and scientists the opportunity to explore the differences/similarities between male and female brain injury. Discussions would revolve around the topics of whether specific aspects of clinical care or research studies need to be altered to better take into consideration sex differences in function after injury and hopefully inspire more studies looking at sexual dimorphisms in TBI.
At the conclusion of this session, attendees will be able to: