Sex Differences in Reported Concussion Injury Rates and Time Loss From Participation: An Update of the National Collegiate Athletic Association Injury Surveillance Program From 2004-2005 Through 2008-2009

J Athl Train. 2016 Mar;51(3):189-94. doi: 10.4085/1062-6050-51.3.05. Epub 2016 Mar 7.


Context: Epidemiologic studies have identified differences in concussion incidence between the sexes. However, few authors to date have updated injury rates (IRs) and time loss between male and female concussed athletes.

Objective: To examine sex differences in IRs and time loss in concussed National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) athletes.

Design: Descriptive epidemiologic study.

Setting: National Collegiate Athletic Association athletics.

Patients or other participants: A total of 1702 concusssed NCAA athletes, consisting of 903 females and 779 males participating in soccer, basketball, ice hockey, lacrosse, softball, or baseball over a 5-year period from 2004-2005 through 2008-2009.

Main outcome measure(s): Using the NCAA Injury Surveillance Program, athletic trainers reported concussions, athlete-exposures (AEs), and time loss across 10 NCAA sports. An IR is the number of injuries in a particular category divided by the number of AEs in that category.

Results: During the study period, 1702 concussions were reported during 4 170 427 AEs for an overall total of 5.47 per 10 000 AEs. In sex-comparable sports, females had a 1.4 times higher overall concussion IR than males (IRs = 4.84 and 3.46, respectively), with greater rates in women's baseball/softball, basketball, ice hockey, and soccer than men. Female soccer and basketball players also displayed more time loss after concussion compared with male basketball and soccer players.

Conclusions: Female athletes sustained a higher rate of concussion and, in all sports except lacrosse, had greater time loss from concussion than male athletes. Additional research is needed on sex differences in time loss after concussions.

Keywords: epidemiology; sports; traumatic brain injuries.

MeSH terms

  • Athletic Injuries / epidemiology*
  • Baseball / injuries
  • Basketball / injuries
  • Brain Concussion / epidemiology*
  • Female
  • Hockey / injuries
  • Humans
  • Incidence
  • Male
  • Racquet Sports / injuries
  • Return to Sport
  • Sex Distribution
  • Sex Factors
  • Soccer / injuries
  • United States / epidemiology
  • Universities