Sex differences in outcome after mild traumatic brain injury

J Neurotrauma. 2010 Mar;27(3):527-39. doi: 10.1089/neu.2009.1068.


The objective of this study was to estimate the independent association of sex with outcome after mild traumatic brain injury (mTBI). We performed an analysis of a subset of an established cohort involving 1425 mTBI patients presenting to an academic emergency department (ED). The associations between sex and three outcomes determined 3 months after the initial ED visit were examined: post-concussive symptom (PCS) score (0, 1-5, 6-16, and >16), the number of days to return of normal activities (0, 1-7, and >7), and the number of days of work missed (0, 1-7,and >7). Logistic regression analyses were used to determine the relationship between sex and each outcome after controlling for 12 relevant subject-level variables. Of the 1425 subjects, 643 (45.1%) were female and 782 (54.9%) were male. Three months after mTBI, males had significantly lower odds of being in a higher PCS score category (odds ratio [OR] 0.62, 95% confidence interval [CI]: 0.50, 0.78); this association appeared to be more prominent during child-bearing years for females. Males and females did not significantly differ with respect to the odds of poorer outcome as defined by the number of days to return of normal activities or the number of days of work missed. Female sex is associated with significantly higher odds of poor outcome after mTBI, as measured by PCS score, after control for appropriate confounders. The observed pattern of peak disability for females during the child-bearing years suggests disruption of endogenous estrogen or progesterone production. Attempts to better understand how mTBI affects production of these hormones acutely after injury and during the recovery period may shed light on the mechanism behind poorer outcome among females and putative therapeutic interventions.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Brain Concussion / epidemiology*
  • Brain Concussion / metabolism
  • Brain Concussion / physiopathology
  • Brain Injuries / epidemiology*
  • Brain Injuries / metabolism
  • Brain Injuries / physiopathology
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Cohort Studies
  • Cytoprotection / physiology
  • Disability Evaluation*
  • Female
  • Gonadal Steroid Hormones / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Outcome Assessment, Health Care / methods*
  • Recovery of Function / physiology
  • Regression Analysis
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Sex Characteristics*
  • Sex Distribution
  • Young Adult


  • Gonadal Steroid Hormones