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Concussion in Football, Volleyball, Are Increasing in Women’s Sports, Study Finds

Women’s sports are becoming more popular, and as a result, studies have been conducted to determine if women are at risk of some of the same injuries as men in the same or similar sports. Studies have shown that concussions in football and volleyball are on the rise in women’s sports, which has drawn the attention of researchers who believe that more needs to be done to track the numbers.

By addressing the mechanisms behind these concussions, it may be possible to reduce the likelihood of a first-time or recurrent injury when playing these sports, which is something that warrants an investigation.

Women Face a Rising Number of Concussions in Football, Volleyball

Seeing an increase in concussions in football and other women’s sports is alarming, which is why it’s necessary to look further into the causes. In a recent study, “Epidemiology of Concussions in National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) Sports: 2014,15-2018/19,” researchers discussed concussions among women in 23 National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) sports during the 2014/2015 and 2018/2019 academic years. In the study, the researchers analyzed sport-related concussion and exposure data that was gathered from the NCAA Injury Surveillance Program.

Through this research, they were able to identify 3,497 sport-related concussions out of 8,474,400 athlete exposures reported during the period of the study.

What else did the researchers discover?

  • The practice-related sport-related concussion rate was lower than the competition-related sport-related concussion rate (IRR, 4.12; 95% CI, 3.86-4.41)
  • It was more likely to see concussions in women’s football at a rate of 7.15 incidences per 10,000 athlete exposures
  • Concussion rates in women’s volleyball and football increased between 2015/2016 and 2018/2019
  • The prevalence of recurrent concussions in ice hockey, both in women’s and men’s competitions and practices, was noteworthy
  • Sex-related differences in rates of injuries were identified. Most sport-related concussions, or SRCs, were reported as new injuries in men and women’s sports at rates of 84.3% and 81.1%, respectively

What Leads to Concussions in Football and Other Women’s Sports?

The research led to observations of sex-related differences in sports including swimming and diving, baseball, softball, basketball and football. The highest rate of sports-related concussions was in women’s football at a rate of 7.15 per 10,000 athlete exposures. It was also shown that those rates increased between the two study periods, the 2015/2016 and 2018/2019 academic terms. For women, equipment or apparatus contact was more likely to be to blame for concussions compared to direct player contact for men.

Researchers Recommend Further Attention Toward the Trajectories of Sport-Related Concussions

Researchers believe that more attention needs to be paid to the trajectories of sport-related concussions particularly in women’s football and volleyball. In the latter years of the study, rates of concussions did increase in both women’s volleyball and football, which throws up a red flag that further investigation into the mechanisms leading to concussions needs to occur.

By looking into the causes and mechanisms behind these sport-related concussions, it is possible to aim efforts at reducing the total number of incidences among athletes playing NCAA sports.

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