Conclusions: After evaluating multiple years of concussion data in comparable sports, the evidence indicates that female athletes may be at greater risk for concussion than their male counterparts. There also is some evidence that gender differences exist in outcomes of traumatic brain injury and concussions. Because concussion is a clinical diagnosis often depending on self reporting and with no established biological marker or consistent symptoms/definitions, and because there is evidence that females are more honest in reporting general injuries than males, it is unclear whether the concussion incidence data, while generally consistent in showing a higher risk in females as compared to males in similar sports, is a true difference or is influenced by a reporting bias.
NEW on our site 2009: The Role of Concussion History and Gender in Recovery From Soccer-Related Concussion
Gender and Recovery PDF of study
Conclusion A history of concussion and gender may account for significant differences in postconcussive neurocognitive test scores in soccer players and may play a role in determining recovery. These differences do not appear to reflect differences in mass between genders and may be related to other gender-specific factors that deserve further study.
NEW on our site 2010: Does gender influence cognitive outcome after traumatic brain injury?
Gender & TBI PDF of study
Conclusions: The current study provided evidence that men and women receiving treatment for TBI do not differ significantly in cognitive outcome post-TBI, with the exception of visual memory, a finding that needs to be confirmed through replication. Questions that remain include how cognitive outcome post-TBI may be affected by the interaction between gender and other factors such as paediatric vs. adult injuries, hormonal changes, and existing structural differences in the brain between men and women. Future research on gender differences post-TBI is needed that includes measures of hormone levels, baseline functioning, and brain imaging, as well as samples that look at paediatric vs. adult injuries as moderating factors.
Results: Within the sample of 263 wheelchair basketball players, 6.1% reported experiencing a concussion in the current season. Of those experiencing concussions during the current season, 44% did not report their concussion. Of those not reporting the incident, 67% did not because they did not want to be removed from physical activity. Analysis by sex indicated that 5.82% of the male athletes sustained a concussion during the current season, and 14.36% had sustained an injury during their athletic career. Female athletes, however, sustained concussions at a higher rate, with 6.67% having concussions during the current season and 30.6% during their athletic careers. Women were also 2.5 times more likely to sustain a concussion than men. Athletes were most likely to report their concussion to their coach (60% of concussed athletes).
Conclusions: The current investigation was consistent with previous research in that women were more likely to sustain a concussion than men, and injury rates were similar to those in able-bodied basketball. Further work is needed in concussion assessment in persons with disability, as well as greater education concerning concussion in disability sports.
2012: A prospective study of physician-observed concussion during a varsity university ice hockey season: incidence and neuropsychological changes
Conclusions: Although the incidence of game-related concussions per 1000 athlete exposures in this study was half the highest rate reported in the authors’ previous research, it was 3 times higher than the incidence reported by other authors within the literature concerning men’s collegiate ice hockey and 5 times higher than the highest rate previously reported for woman’s collegiate ice hockey. Interestingly, the present results suggest a substantively higher incidence of concussion among women (14.93) than men (7.50). The reproducible and significantly higher incidence of concussion among both men and woman ice hockey players, when compared with -observed games, suggests a significant underestimation of sports concussion in the scientific literature.
2012: The Role of Age and Sex in Symptoms, Neurocognitive Performance, and Postural Stability in Athletes After Concussion
Gender and Recovery PDF of study
Results: Female athletes performed worse than male athletes on visual memory (mean, 65.1% and 70.1%, respectively; P = .049) and reported more symptoms (mean, 14.4 and 10.1, respectively) after concussion (P = .035). High school athletes performed worse than college athletes on verbal (mean, 78.8% and 82.7%, respectively; P = .001) and visual (mean, 65.8% and 69.4%, respectively; P = .01) memory. High school athletes were still impaired on verbal memory 7 days after concussion compared with collegiate athletes (P = .001). High school male athletes scored worse on the BESS than college male athletes (mean, 18.8 and 13.0, respectively; P = .001). College female athletes scored worse on the BESS than high school female athletes (mean, 21.1 and 16.9, respectively; P = .001).
Conclusion: The results of the current study supported age differences in memory and sex differences in memory and symptoms and an interaction between age and sex on postural stability after concussion that warrant consideration from clinicians and researchers when interpreting symptoms, specific components of NCT, and postural stability tests. Future research should develop and assess interventions tailored to age and sex differences and include younger (<14 years) participants.
Girls Lacrosse PDF of Study
Results: Of the 25 head injuries (21 concussions and 4 contusions) recorded as game-related incidents by athletic trainers during the 2 seasons, 20 head injuries were captured on video, and 14 incidents had sufficient image quality for analysis. All 14 incidents of head injury (11 concussions, 3 contusions) involved varsity-level athletes. Most head injuries resulted from stick-to-head contact (n = 8), followed by body-to-head contact (n = 4). The most frequent player activities were defending a shot (n = 4) and competing for a loose ball (n = 4). Ten of the 14 head injuries occurred inside the 12-m arc and in front of the goal, and no penalty was called in 12 injury incidents. All injuries involved 2 players, and most resulted from unintentional actions. Turf versus grass did not appear to influence number of head injuries.
Conclusion: Comprehensive video analysis suggests that play near the goal at the varsity high school level is associated with head injuries. Absence of penalty calls on most of these plays suggests an area for exploration, such as the extent to which current rules are enforced and the effectiveness of existing rules for the prevention of head injury.
This is an excellent summary of concussions in sports but findings about women’s concussions are not found until the section, Sex, on page six of the report.
- Recent data suggest that in sports with similar rules female athletes sustain more concussions than their male counterparts.
- In addition, female athletes experience or report a higher number and severity of symptoms as well as a longer duration of recovery than male athletes in several studies.
More studies to come…