The role of concussion history and gender in recovery from soccer-related concussion

Am J Sports Med. 2009 Sep;37(9):1699-704. doi: 10.1177/0363546509332497. Epub 2009 May 21.


Background: This study was designed to investigate differences in recovery in male and female soccer athletes.

Hypotheses: Soccer players with a history of concussion will perform worse on neurocognitive testing than players without a history of concussion. Furthermore, female athletes will demonstrate poorer performance on neurocognitive testing than male athletes.

Study design: Cohort study (prognosis): Level of evidence, 2.

Methods: Computer-based neuropsychological testing using reaction time, memory, and visual motor-speed composite scores of the ImPACT test battery was performed postconcussion in soccer players ranging in age from 8 to 24 years (N = 234; 141 females, 93 males). A multivariate analysis of variance was conducted to examine group differences in neurocognitive performance between male and female athletes with and without a history of concussion.

Results: Soccer players with a history of at least 1 previous concussion performed significantly worse on ImPACT than those who had not sustained a prior concussion (F = 2.92, P =.03). In addition, female soccer players performed worse on neurocognitive testing (F = 2.72, P =.05) and also reported more symptoms (F = 20.1, P =.00001) than male soccer players. There was no significant difference in body mass index between male and female players (F =.04, P =.85).

Conclusion: A history of concussion and gender may account for significant differences in postconcussive neurocognitive test scores in soccer players and may play a role in determining recovery. These differences do not appear to reflect differences in mass between genders and may be related to other gender-specific factors that deserve further study.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Brain Concussion / rehabilitation*
  • Child
  • Cognition Disorders / diagnosis
  • Cohort Studies
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Neuropsychological Tests
  • Sex Factors
  • Soccer / injuries*
  • Young Adult