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Differences in sport-related concussion for female and male athletes in comparable collegiate sports: a study from the NCAA-DoD Concussion Assessment, Research and Education (CARE) Consortium

Abstract

Objectives To examine sex differences in sport-related concussion (SRC) across comparable sports.

Methods Prospective cohort of collegiate athletes enrolled between 2014 and 2017 in the Concussion Assessment, Research and Education Consortium study.

Results Among 1071 concussions (females=615; 57.4%), there was no difference in recovery (median days to full return to play) (females=13.5 (IQR 9.0, 23.1) vs males=11.8 (IQR 8.1, 19.0), p=0.96). In subgroup analyses, female recovery was longer in contact (females=12.7 days (IQR 8.8, 21.4) vs males=11.0 days (IQR 7.9, 16.2), p=0.0021), while male recovery was longer in limited contact sports (males=16.9 days (IQR 9.7, 101.7) vs females=13.8 days (IQR 9.1, 22.0), p<0.0001). There was no overall difference in recovery among Division I schools (females=13.7 (IQR 9.0, 23.1) vs males=12.2 (IQR 8.2 19.7), p=0.5), but females had longer recovery at the Division II/III levels (females=13.0 (IQR 9.2, 22.7) vs males=10.6 (IQR 8.1, 13.9), p=0.0048).

Conclusion Overall, no difference in recovery between sexes across comparable women’s and men’s sports in this collegiate cohort was found. However, females in contact and males in limited contact sports experienced longer recovery times, while females had longer recovery times at the Division II/III level. These disparate outcomes indicate that, while intrinsic biological sex differences in concussion recovery may exist, important, modifiable extrinsic factors may play a role in concussion outcomes.

  • concussion
  • female
  • gender
  • male
  • sports analysis in different types of sports

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