Sex differences in concussion symptoms of high school athletes

Leah J Frommer, Kelly K Gurka, Kevin M Cross, Christopher D Ingersoll, R Dawn Comstock, Susan A Saliba
Journal of Athletic Training 2011, 46 (1): 76-84

CONTEXT: More than 1.6 million sport-related concussions occur every year in the United States, affecting greater than 5% of all high school athletes who participate in contact sports. As more females participate in sports, understanding possible differences in concussion symptoms between sexes becomes more important.

OBJECTIVE: To compare symptoms, symptom resolution time, and time to return to sport between males and females with sport-related concussions.

DESIGN: Descriptive epidemiology study.

SETTING: Data were collected from 100 high schools via High School RIO (Reporting Information Online).

PATIENTS OR OTHER PARTICIPANTS: Athletes from participating schools who sustained concussions while involved in interscholastic sports practice or competition in 9 sports (boys' football, soccer, basketball, wrestling, and baseball and girls' soccer, volleyball, basketball, and softball) during the 2005-2006 and 2006-2007 school years. A total of 812 sport concussions were reported (610 males, 202 females).

MAIN OUTCOME MEASURE(S): Reported symptoms, symptom resolution time, and return-to-play time.

RESULTS: No difference was found between the number of symptoms reported (P  =  .30). However, a difference was seen in the types of symptoms reported. In year 1, males reported amnesia (exact P  =  .03) and confusion/disorientation (exact P  =  .04) more frequently than did females. In year 2, males reported more amnesia (exact P  =  .002) and confusion/disorientation (exact P  =  .002) than did females, whereas females reported more drowsiness (exact P  =  .02) and sensitivity to noise (exact P  =  .002) than did males. No differences were observed for symptom resolution time (P  =  .40) or return-to-play time (P  =  .43) between sexes.

CONCLUSIONS: The types of symptoms reported differed between sexes after sport-related concussion, but symptom resolution time and return-to-play timelines were similar.

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