Disclosures: The authors report no relevant financial disclosures.
February 26, 2021
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Study finds no differences in concussion recovery between male, female collegiate athletes

Disclosures: The authors report no relevant financial disclosures.
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Published results show no “statistically significant differences” in concussion recovery and return to play timelines between male and female collegiate athletes across comparable sports.

Christina L. Master, MD, FAAP, CAQSM, FACSM, and colleagues analyzed a prospective cohort of NCAA Division I, II and III athletes enrolled in the Concussion Assessment, Research and Education Consortium study between 2014 and 2017.

Researchers identified 1,071 qualified sports-related concussions (SRCs) – 615 were sustained by women and 456 were sustained by men. Recovery was defined in median days to full return to play (RTP), according to the study.

Overall, Master and colleagues observed no “statistically significant difference” between the groups in time to full RTP. Women fully recovered from an SRC in a median of 13.5 days, while men fully recovered from an SRC in a median of 11.8 days.

However, researchers noted differences in recovery between certain subgroups. Women in contact sports and men in limited contact sports had longer median recovery times. Additionally, women at the Division II and III levels also experienced longer median recovery times, the researchers wrote in the study.

“In comparable collegiate sports where both single-sex teams are fielded, there were no overall differences between sexes regarding time to full RTP,” they wrote. “However, when examining sports by contact level, females in contact sports had longer recovery than men, while men in limited contact sports had longer recovery than women,” they added.

“These disparate outcomes indicate that, while intrinsic biological sex differences in concussion recovery may exist, important, modiable extrinsic factors may play a role in concussion outcomes,” the researchers concluded.