Women College Students More Likely to Suffer Concussions Than Their Male Peers

A new study authored by three researchers at the University of Colorado presents some interesting data on concussions suffered by U.S. college students. Among the findings were that there was a concussion incidence rate of about one in 75 students per year. Non-sport-related concussions outnumbered sport-related concussions. Additionally, 41 percent of students diagnosed said they had already had between one and three concussions; 5 percent reported four or more.

Among the general undergraduate population – excluding varsity athletes – 64 percent of concussions were non-sport-related, while the remainder were sustained during organized competitive sports, such as club sports. Falls, such as slips on the ice or crashes on skateboards, accounted for 38 percent of concussions. Hits to the head, such as those sustained in a fight or accident, constituted 8.5 percent. And 6.5 percent of all concussions resulted from motor vehicle accidents.

The study all found that women college students were significantly more like than their male peers to suffer a concussion. This was particularly true for varsity athletes. The study found twice as many concussions among women athletes than among male athletes. While it’s uncertain exactly why females appear to be more susceptible to concussions, hormonal differences and differences in neck strength and head mass may play a role, said John Breck, study co-author and lead physician for the University of Colorado-Boulder Medical Services.

The authors found that the incidence of concussions among college students is far higher than previous studies have shown for people of traditional college age. But they know that this may be due in part because greater awareness could be encouraging more students to seek care.

“Missing class and falling behind due to a head injury can be a significant detriment to a student’s academic success,” said Dr. Breck. “It’s critical that they get high quality, evidence-based care as soon as possible so they can return to learning in a safe way with as little disruption in their education as possible.”

The full study, “Characteristics and Incidence of Concussion Among a US Collegiate Undergraduate Population,” was published in the journal JAMA Network Open. It may be accessed here.

Filed Under: Research/Study


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