Why women’s ice hockey has a higher concussion rate than football

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  • Published on:  Wednesday, February 14, 2018
  • When college athletes play the same sport, women report concussions more often than men.

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    In college, women’s hockey players are reporting concussions at a higher rate than male hockey players. In fact, female hockey players are reporting a higher concussion rate than nearly all sports sanctioned by the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA). In several studies, female hockey players have reported concussions more often than men’s college football, and at a rate that is comparable to men’s college wrestling and men’s college ice hockey.

    Compared to sports like women’s tennis or women’s basketball, hockey is faster, played on harder surfaces, and involves more collisions, which partly explains the high rate of concussions but doesn’t account for the fact that female athletes are reporting more concussions than male athletes who also play hockey. In fact, several surveys have demonstrated that, besides hockey, female athletes consistently report a higher concussion rate than male athletes playing the same gender comparable sport (e.g basketball, soccer, softball/baseball).

    The reasons why are unclear, but this video highlights some of the plausible factors, including: gender bias, reporting bias, differences in style of play (for example, body checking is allowed in men’s hockey and is illegal in women’s hockey), hormonal differences (progesterone is of particular interest to researchers), neck strength, and differences in the structure of nerve fibers called axons.

    To help understand how these factors might influence the concussion rates, this video features interviews with University of North Carolina researcher Zachary Kerr and retired US Women’s Hockey player Josephine Pucci, who ended her career following several concussions. To hear her story of how she came back to win a 2014 Olympic Silver Medal while playing on the Harvard Women’s team, make sure to watch the video above.

    Resources:

    Headway Foundation: http://headwayfoundation.com/
    PINK Concussions: http://www.pinkconcussions.com/
    CDC Heads Up Initiative: https://www.cdc.gov/headsup/basics/concussion_prevention.html

    Sources:

    Concussion Surveys:
    2007 epidemiology (Journal of Athletic Training):
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1941297/
    2010 7-year review of women's ice hockey injuries (Canadian Journal of Surgery)
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/20858376
    2012 study (Journal of Neurosurgery):
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/23199425
    2014 survey (NCAA):
    https://www.ncaa.org/sites/default/files/Concussion GOALS Exec Summary_Feb_12_2014_FINALpost_0.pdf
    2014 research paper on injuries in women's ice hockey (Current Sports Medicine Reports):
    http://bit.ly/2EHXLOk
    2015 epidemiology (The American Journal of Sports Medicine):
    http://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/0363546515599634?url_ver=Z39.88-2003&rfr_id=ori:rid:crossref.org&rfr_dat=cr_pub=pubmed

    Further Research:

    2014 research on neck strength (The Journal of Primary Prevention):
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24930131
    2014 research on hormonal influence (Journal of Head Trauma):
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/24220566
    2017 research on nerve fiber structure (University of Pennsylvania/Experimental Neurology):
    https://www.pennmedicine.org/news/news-releases/2017/november/women-may-be-more-vulnerable-to-concussions-because-of-leaner-nerve-fibers-penn-study-suggests
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/29104114

    Hockey Manuals:

    USA Hockey Checking Manual:
    http://assets.ngin.com/attachments/document/0042/6379/Checking_Manual_FINAL.pdf
    USA Hockey Introduction to Body Contact:
    http://assets.ngin.com/attachments/document/0020/3311/IntroductiontoBodyContact.pdf

    Additional Sources:

    2007 women’s Hockey epidemiology (Journal of Athletic Training):
    https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC1941287/
    “Concussion” Chapter 15, “Sex Differences in Sports Medicine” by Dunbar and Putukian, 2016.

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  • Source: https://youtu.be/tIfXsxtnGr4
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Comment

  • Vox

     (Feb 14, 2018)

    A note on the data: Many of you have noticed that the survey cited at 0:24 contradicts the fact that female athletes report concussions at a higher rate than men playing a comparable sport. However, despite that data point, the general understanding, established through many years of study by different researchers using a variety of methods, is that women do report higher rates of concussion. Although I wasn't able to squeeze all the data in the video, I've listed several sources in the description abo...

  • Der Dings

     (Nov 19, 2018)

    I thaught this was about football, not american football

  • Antoine Morin-Prévost

     (Feb 14, 2018)

    I have a feeling that the difference comes from the fact that men don't report concussions as much as women, if they do they can be seen as weak, fragile and therefore loose their teammates / coach confidence. We also tend to ignore certain symptoms and are encouraged to "toughen up" and "be a man". Of course that's wrong, concussions are a very serious injury and leads to CTE, which has been linked to early dementia in many contact sports players, especially football.

  • Panic!atthephandom

     (2 days ago)

    Antoine Morin-Prévost exactly what I was thinking

  • Bryan Zhang

     (Jan 22, 2019)

    Antoine Morin-Prévost as a hockey and football play I also agree

  • J M

     (Feb 14, 2018)

    Women's sports pretty universally have less money-making potential, so there is less financial incentive to avoid reporting. There is a larger and more lucrative market for men's sports, giving greater incentive to continue despite experiencing symptoms. It has been reported that NFL players will intentionally do poorly on their baseline concussion test so that they are less likely to get flagged for subsequent concussions, because there is a lot of money at stake. I suspect that this explains most of ...

  • Der Dings

     (Nov 19, 2018)

    0:27 you're wrong, just compare Men's ans Women's ice hockey

  • CheesePuff

     (Oct 18, 2018)

    Jack Murphy na fam it’s just because no one wants to watch that trash

  • sonnder

     (Feb 14, 2018)

    Are you saying the men and women aren't the same?

  • T. hope

     (Jan 25, 2019)

    Stop

  • Gent Rushiti

     (Dec 10, 2018)

    Kat K different play styles? women dont even hit

  • Rachel Moon

     (Feb 14, 2018)

    No matter which way the statistics went, this comments section would be ridiculous. If you said men had more concussions, you'd get a ton of "That's because men actually play the sport, unlike weak women who just prance around on the ice!", but if women get more concussions it's because "Women are bad at sports and they like to complain about everything!"

  • Alex Gavin

     (5 days ago)

    It’s true

  • john scott

     (Jan 9, 2019)

    Um no people are just explaining why these statistics occur. I haven't seen barely any hate in this comments section to be honest. I like your victim complex though. Hope it takes you far in life

  • Alicia Mn

     (Feb 14, 2018)

    *Vox answering questions that i never thought and never will*Great video!

  • Debo Datta

     (Feb 14, 2018)

    Men don't report it because they don't want to be seen as weak. Women don't care about being seen as weak so they report it.

  • troryANCAS

     (Mar 1, 2018)

    Why aren't women hockey players allowed to check each other, though? Especially when they're playing against other women, and not men? Why take that aspect out of their game at all?

  • Jeremy Worden

     (Feb 3, 2019)

    Contact used to be allowed in IIHF women’s games, but was banned in 1990 because the Canadian and American women’s teams were dominating their European opponents so badly.

  • Gabe Hodge

     (Jan 28, 2019)

    Women want equal rights not equal fights

  • Paul Calvert

     (Feb 14, 2018)

    Because they have weaker skulls than men? This isn't meant to be sexist or anything but genetically they (on majority) have weaker bodies when compared to men in their respective field in terms of concsussions

  • demonpride1975

     (Jan 6, 2019)

    +Daniel 786 ummmm yes men do, do you not understand how anatomy works, men are on average larger then women, this means that our bones, have to be large and thicker to support our frames. guess what men's brains are 10% bigger, and since our bones are bigger, guess what the skull is a bone, which requires it to be stronger by being thicker. you should seriously do some research.

  • Tijan

     (Feb 14, 2018)

    Well why don’t men and women play together? There’s your answer. Nonetheless I think concussion being singled out as the injury of study has some hidden agenda. Clearly studying bone fractures wouldn’t have as much sensationalism as concussion. This study needs to be taken with a grain of salt

  • Fluffy Unicorn

     (Nov 22, 2018)

    +Tim Lepo Yes, When Playing volleyball some boys joined the girls team.

  • Com Lag

     (Feb 15, 2018)

    'Beyond socio cultural factors, researchers are also asking if biological factors play a part to'Says it all about Vox

  • Teh_Reel_NB

     (Jun 21, 2018)

    Username 1 he might have misunderstood that one point but it doesn’t take away from his.

  • Username 1

     (Jun 13, 2018)

    Com Lag I agree with you but they’re also talking more about whose gonna be reporting their symptoms more often. Your misunderstanding their point.