When contact sports cause concussion injuries, who comes out ahead?

December 5, 2017, American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons

Concussions are common injuries among contact sport athletes. While most athletes experience full recovery within a few weeks and can return to their sport, according to a study published in the December issue of the Journal of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, female athletes tend to experience a higher concussion injury rate than male athletes. Additionally, athletes who suffered a concussion injury prior to college were three times more likely to suffer a contact sport-related concussion than their collegiate peers without a history of the injury.

In a 15-year retrospective study of 1,200 varsity student athletes at Columbia University in New York, study authors found:

  • the most commonly reported include headache, impaired concentration, and dizziness;
  • the risk of was higher among females (23.3 percent) than males (17 percent) over the course of their collegiate career; and,
  • the findings support prior research that indicate female contact sport athletes have a greater risk of concussion injuries than their male counterparts. The reasons for this difference are not clear, but awareness of this finding is an important step in taking these injuries into consideration.

"Concussion injuries in football, for instance, receive the lion's share of media attention, but in our study female athletes were more likely to suffer a concussion injury," says lead study author Cecilia Davis-Hayes, BA. "The greater the number of reported post-concussion symptoms, the greater the likelihood the will have a prolonged recovery period and a longer to return to play than athletes reporting fewer symptoms. This was more prevalent among female compared to male contact sport athletes."

"For the most part, a concussion is a concussion, regardless of the sport in which it happens. But each concussion is different in mechanism, symptoms and recovery even within a single individual," says study co-author James M. Noble, MD, assistant professor of neurology at Columbia University Medical Center. "Young men and women experience similar concussion symptoms and recovery periods. Our study also supports past findings that suggest women may be more likely to either experience or report poor sleep while men may be more likely to report poor memory immediately after the concussion."

Team physicians, parents and coaches should:

  • maintain a high index of suspicion for concussion injuries among ;
  • establish a positive environment towards athletes so that they do report concussion injuries, and discourage athletes from hiding concussion injury symptoms; and,
  • be aware that expressing a greater number or severity of symptoms are more likely to experience a prolonged recovery.

"While our study was not designed to explain why the latter occurred, one can reason that more symptomatic patients are experiencing a more severe injury requiring a longer period," says Davis-Hayes.

The co-authors intend to follow-up their multifaceted study on this group of collegiate athletes to identify subsequent risk of orthopaedic as well as subtle neuropsychological deficits among athletes who have had a concussion, and long-term outcomes following a contact sports career.

Explore further: Brain recovery longer than clinical recovery among athletes following concussion, research suggests

More information: Cecilia Davis-Hayes et al, Sex-specific Outcomes and Predictors of Concussion Recovery, Journal of the American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (2017). DOI: 10.5435/JAAOS-D-17-00276

Related Stories

Brain recovery longer than clinical recovery among athletes following concussion, research suggests

August 24, 2017
University athletes with a recent concussion had changes in their brain structure and function even after they received medical clearance to return to play, a new study has found.

Women may be at higher risk for sports-related concussion than men

February 28, 2017
Women athletes are 50 percent more likely than male athletes to have a sports-related concussion, according to a preliminary study released today that will be presented at the American Academy of Neurology's 69th Annual Meeting ...

Researchers incorporate talk therapy to help athletes cope with emotional effects of head injuries

November 20, 2017
When a student-athlete suffers a concussion, one of their biggest concerns is getting back to the playing field as soon as they are well. While the physical symptoms of their brain injury may fade after a week or two, for ...

Concussions in female high school athletes—frequent but under-reported

September 29, 2016
Nearly half of female athletes participating in high school sports have had a diagnosed or suspected concussion—but most don't report these sports-related injuries to coaches or trainers, reports a study in the Journal ...

Gene variation in athletes might signify longer recovery following concussion

March 6, 2016
Genetic research on concussions is progressing in many different avenues. However, researchers presenting their work at the American Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine's (AOSSM) Specialty Day, believe there may be a ...

Previous mental distress may slow concussion recovery

April 20, 2016
(HealthDay)—Athletes may take longer to recover after a concussion if they had psychosomatic symptoms—aches and pains caused by mental distress—before their head injury, new research suggests.

Recommended for you

Aspirin alone a good clot buster after knee surgery

October 22, 2018
When it comes to preventing blood clots after a knee replacement, good old aspirin may be just as effective as newer, more expensive drugs.

Amount of weight regain after bariatric surgery helps predict health risks

October 16, 2018
Measuring the percentage of weight regained following the maximum amount of weight lost after bariatric surgery can help predict a patient's risk of several serious health problems, according to a long-term, multicenter study ...

Technique to 'listen' to a patient's brain during tumour surgery

October 16, 2018
Surgeons could soon eavesdrop on a patient's brain activity during surgery to remove their brain tumour, helping improve the accuracy of the operation and reduce the risk of impairing brain function.

Researchers link gut bacteria to heart transplant success or failure

October 4, 2018
In a new study, researchers at the University of Maryland School of Medicine (UMSOM) have found that the gut microbiome appears to play a key role in how well the body accepts a transplanted heart. The scientists found a ...

Focus on neuroscience, nociception to improve anesthesia, paper says

October 1, 2018
People sometimes mistakenly think of general anesthesia as just a really deep sleep but in fact, anesthesia is really four brain states—unconsciousness, amnesia, immobility and suppression of the body's damage sensing response, ...

Bariatric surgery linked to safer childbirth for the mother

September 27, 2018
Obese mothers who lose weight through bariatric surgery can have safer deliveries. The positive effects are many, including fewer caesarean sections, infections, tears and haemorrhages, and fewer cases of post-term delivery ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.