Female collegiate athletes more likely to experience concussions

A recent study published in the Journal of the American Academy of Orthopedic Surgeons (AAOS) found that females are more likely to experience sports-related concussions (SRCs) than males, narrowing the research gap of sex specific predictors of occurrence and recovery from SRCs.

According to the study, researchers found that increasing numbers of prior concussion predicted recurrence of SRCs and the total number of symptoms found in collegiate athletes studied predicted a prolonged recovery period.

"This study confirms sex-based differences in SRCs," according to the lead author of the study William Levine, MD, an orthopedic surgeon, chairman and professor at Columbia University Medical Center in New York. "Longitudinal studies of collegiate cohorts should attempt to limit follow-up bias and offer opportunities to clarify determinants of SRC."

The 15-year-long retrospective cohort study examined a total of 1,200 Columbia University varsity athletes, including 822 males and 378 females, at risk of SRC. According to the findings, 288 athletes experienced at least one SRC (88 females and 140 males) in their collegiate career. Researchers were then able to produce follow-up data for 98 percent of these athletes.

"Risk factors for collegiate concussion included female sex or precollegiate concussion," according to the study. "Prolonged recovery was predicted by the presence of eight or more post-concussion symptoms for all athletes and for female athletes only."

Levine and his colleagues also found that post-concussion symptoms were similar for both female and male athletes, with the exception of sleep disturbance and memory impairment.