BOSTON—Women athletes are 50% more likely to have a sports-related concussion than male athletes, according to research presented at the 69th Annual Meeting of the American Academy of Neurology.
“The findings from this study highlight the need for
more research on the gender differences in concussion,”
said James Noble, MD, Assistant Professor of Clinical
Neurology at Columbia University in New York.
Little is known about the occurrence, severity,
and recovery of sports-related concussion, especially
among female athletes, since previous studies typically focused on male athletes. Gender-balanced studies
have been limited by small sample size, incomplete
or variable follow-up, or referral bias to tertiary concussion care centers. As a result, Dr. Noble and colleagues sought to determine gender differences in the
incidence, symptomatology, neuropsychologic testing,
and return-to-play length of sports-related concussion
in collegiate varsity athletes.
For the study, Dr. Noble and colleagues followed
1,203 athletes at Columbia University from 2000 to
2014. In all, 822 of the participants were men, and 381
participants were women. All participants played sports
such as soccer, basketball, and football.
Researchers assessed participants’ thinking skills
and processing speed before and after a concussion.
In addition investigators tracked symptoms and when
participants returned to play after a concussion.
A total of 228 athletes had at least one concussion, including 23% of the women (n = 88) and
17% of the men (n = 140). In addition, women who
played soccer and basketball were more likely to
have a concussion than their male counterparts. Finally, athletes who had had a previous concussion
were three times more likely to have another concussion, compared with athletes who had never had
The investigators also noted that women recovered
from concussion about as quickly as men. Both men and
women had a median return-to-play time of 10 days.
Concussion symptoms were similar for men and women, although amnesia occurred more frequently in men
(44% vs 31%), and insomnia occurred more frequently
in women (42% vs 29%). NR
Are Women Athletes More
Susceptible to Concussion?
Men and women collegiate athletes had a median return-to-play time of 10 days.
Athletes who had had a previous
concussion were three times more
likely to have another one.