Higher Concussion Risk in Female Athletes

Higher Concussion Risk in Female Athletes

Female athletes in contact sports are at higher concussion risk than males, but evidence is scarce

Although injuries to the head represent a small proportion of all sport injuries, they are of great concern due to their potential long-term consequences. These consequences are even suspected after mild traumatic brain injuries (concussions) and following frequent subconcussive head impacts (e.g. heading).

Last week the HITG team published an important review on the risk of concussions and other head injuries in elite level contact sports. Specifically, we compared the number and characteristics of head injuries in football, ice hockey, rugby and American football. We also analysed whether concussions are more frequent in male or female players and how match and training injury risk compares. After screening 7673 articles, of which we included 70 in the final analysis, these are our key findings:

  • When comparing football, rugby, ice hockey and American Football, the highest concussion risk was found in rugby, while the lowest was found in football.
  • Concussion risk varied across context (match vs. training) and between sexes, with female players at an increased concussion risk in ice hockey and football.
  • The most important methodological considerations regarding the current literature are insufficient sample size / study duration and heterogeneity in the reporting of outcomes.

Future research should focus on concussion in women’s contact sports, as there is little evidence available in this area! The full article can be found here

Prien A, Grafe A, Rössler R, et al. Epidemiology of Head Injuries Focusing on Concussions in Team Contact Sports: A Systematic Review. Sports Med 2018;51:838.


The goal of the Head in the Game project is to evaluate and improve long-term health in elite men's and women's football. The main question we seek to answer is: does a professional football career have any consequences for the musculoskeletal or neurocognitive health of former players?

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