Because of the negative consequences of concussion, considerable research efforts have been directed toward understanding the risk factors for sport-related concussion (SRC) and its outcomes to better inform strategies for risk reduction. Girls are suggested to have an increased risk of concussion, warranting exploration into sex-dependent variations in concussion presentation and management, with the potential that this information might inform sex-specific rules directed toward risk reduction within sports.
To compare sex-associated differences in epidemiology and concussion management in adolescent soccer players within a prospective, longitudinal high school injury surveillance project.
This prospective, longitudinal cohort study assessed male and female soccer athletes from all high schools in the Michigan High School Athletic Association (MHSAA) during academic years 2016-2017 to 2018-2019.
Sport-related concussion captured in the MHSAA Head Injury Reporting System.
Outcomes included details regarding each documented SRC event, including injury mechanism, immediate management, and return-to-play time. Multiple comparisons were made between male and female athletes regarding SRC risk, mechanism, short-term management, and outcomes.
A total of 43 741 male and 39 637 female soccer athletes participated in MHSAA soccer during the 3 consecutive academic years of study (2016-2017: n = 751 schools; 2017-2018: n = 750 schools; and 2018-2019: n = 747 schools). During the 3 years of surveillance, 1507 of the 83 378 soccer athletes (1.8%) were reported to have SRC during soccer participation, including 557 boys (37.0%) and 950 girls (63.0%). Documented SRC risk in female soccer participants was greater than in male soccer participants (risk ratio, 1.88; 95% CI, 1.69-2.09; P < .001). Male soccer athletes most often sustained SRC from contact with another player (48.4%), whereas SRCs in female soccer players recorded in the Head Injury Reporting System were most often from nonplayer contact events (41.9%; P < .001). Adolescent male soccer players with a documented SRC were more likely to be removed from play on the day of injury (odds ratio, 1.54; 95% CI, 1.15-2.06; P = .004). Although the overall median time to return to play was 11 days (interquartile range [IQR], 7-15 days), male athletes typically returned 2 days earlier than female athletes (median, 10 [IQR, 7-14] days vs 12 [IQR, 7-16] days; Peto test P < .001).
In this cohort study, sex-associated differences were revealed among adolescent soccer athletes in SRC risk, mechanism of injury, immediate management, and outcomes in injuries documented in a statewide injury reporting system. Thus, consideration might be given to sex-specific approaches to participation and concussion management in the sport.