The Differences Between Males and Females with Brain Injuries

Kelly Campbell

by Tayeb Benjaafar

What are the differences between males and females?

This is an age-old question that no person has ever been able to truly figure out. What makes a male and a female so different from one another? Genetically, males and females are 98.5% identical. In fact, we even share the same hormones and critical organs (brain, heart, lungs, stomach, etc.). Fundamentally, it seems males and females are more alike than we think?

Meet Odette Harris

Well Odette Harris, a professor of neurosurgery and brain trauma expert, began to explore that very question through her research. Harris never intended to bring sex differences into her line of work because it was believed that no matter the body, a brain is still fundamentally a brain. While analyzing data from the Department of Veteran Affairs she realized that there is in fact a huge sex difference in the aftermath of traumatic brain injuries, and nobody is exploring it.

The same type of injury in both males and females has a drastic difference in recovery based on a person’s sex.

Photo of Odette Harris

Through her studies, Harris, director of the Traumatic Brain Injury Center of Excellence at the VA Palo Alto Health Care System, found some insane trends. It was found that females with some form of brain injury trauma and other possible severe injuries saw vastly higher rates of substance abuse, depression, memory problems, and even homelessness along with a vast array of other troubles than males with the same type of brain trauma and injuries.