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

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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.


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


Concussion Surveys:
2007 epidemiology (Journal of Athletic Training):
2010 7-year review of women's ice hockey injuries (Canadian Journal of Surgery)
2012 study (Journal of Neurosurgery):
2014 survey (NCAA):
2014 research paper on injuries in women's ice hockey (Current Sports Medicine Reports):
2015 epidemiology (The American Journal of Sports Medicine):

Further Research:

2014 research on neck strength (The Journal of Primary Prevention):
2014 research on hormonal influence (Journal of Head Trauma):
2017 research on nerve fiber structure (University of Pennsylvania/Experimental Neurology):

Hockey Manuals:

USA Hockey Checking Manual:
USA Hockey Introduction to Body Contact:

Additional Sources:

2007 women’s Hockey epidemiology (Journal of Athletic Training):
“Concussion” Chapter 15, “Sex Differences in Sports Medicine” by Dunbar and Putukian, 2016.

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sports hockey head injury concussions ice hockey Vox.com vox explain explainer women's hockey hockey concussions women hockey concussions female hockey womens college hockey college hockey josephine pucci us womens hockey womens ice hockey ice hockey concussions female concussions womens sports concussions female athlete concussions concussions neck strength neck strength concussions concussion hormones concussions nerve fiber

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    Popular Comments:

Vox . 2018-02-14
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 above. If you'd like to learn more, make sure to check them out. Thanks for watching! -Mac
121 2 . Reply
Alex Nas . 2019-05-18
just call it hockey, if your gonna call it "ice hockey", then say "american football" because most of the world realize its called hockey just like americans know its just football.
121 2 . Reply
DaRealRyan . 2019-05-16
Why tf does it have to be female when in part of the vid it clearly shows that mens hockey have higher rates
121 2 . Reply
BRENDAN ROSS . 2019-05-16
I love how much they sugarcoat the fact that since they start hitting later they just can’t take hits
121 2 . Reply
Bilal Abdi . 2019-05-14
All of these are men’s sports so that’s why their getting beat up stay in the kitchen but their still gonna get beat up
121 2 . Reply
Max Simeck . 2019-05-14
oh what a bunch of bs lol.
121 2 . Reply
Chris D’Andelet . 2019-05-07
What about lacrosse
121 2 . Reply
Zachary Hoyer . 2019-05-03
Along with sports like tennis, name one injury without that happened to a tennis player that was lethal
121 2 . Reply
Philippe S-Gaudreau . 2019-04-27
My two cents, but F=m*a. You get more acceleration with skates on and athletes playing hockey are usually bigger than your average John Doe, hence the bigger force transferred through the hit. Add to that biological factors that are not favorable to women and perhaps the reluctance of men to declare the symptoms because of the bigger money involved and the fear of looking weak and it makes perfect sense
121 2 . Reply
thebrettster69 . 2019-04-27
The sport is actually called “Hockey”. The other variations such as Ball Hockey, Floor Hockey and Field Hockey are branch offs of the original game played on ice.
So just to simplify; Hockey is played on ice so saying Ice Hockey is somewhat redundant.
121 2 . Reply
Thomas Kiss . 2019-04-27
Lmao “Neck Strength”
121 2 . Reply
Joe Danger . 2019-04-27
Why show :24 seconds? That literally ruins the entire narrative you are trying to create lmao
121 2 . Reply
Dan Wally . 2019-04-26
Women just like to complain a tad more than men ? Weird..
121 2 . Reply
Tommy Kawston . 2019-04-26
Maybe it is because when younger at the lower levels women are not allowed to hit. Thought they are not taught to hit or take a hit. I have noticed when hitting was taken away from my sons league five years ago now my youngest has had two concusions because of bad hits and him not receiving right.
121 2 . Reply
Kelvin Robinson . 2019-04-26
Because they are used to the kitchen, not athletics
121 2 . Reply
YouTube Lover . 2019-04-26
ha ha ha i do that
121 2 . Reply
xpatsfan72x . 2019-04-26
Women’s hockey doesn’t even have checking tho
121 2 . Reply
Gabriel Anderson . 2019-04-26
... I feel like male football players get just as many concussions but don’t report it
121 2 . Reply
Paul Guy . 2019-04-26
"Why do women's hockey players get concussions?"

Because all hockey players get concussions.
121 2 . Reply
Cameron Shearer . 2019-04-25
why did you edit it at 2:08 to make it look like the women's shot was the one that broke the glass?
121 2 . Reply
DurdyClaude . 2019-04-25
I'm not sure I beleive this...I have watched alot of womens hockey...they are not allowed to hit or fight...so where are the injuries coming from?
121 2 . Reply
Ethan Purshega . 2019-04-25
That’s cause women are pathetic and don’t know what they are doing while playing hockey
121 2 . Reply
A New Day . 2019-04-25
Wow...women are different than men. Don’t tell that to a liberal or they will silence you with their screaming and blue hair.
121 2 . Reply
Andrew Haley . 2019-04-24
Leave it to Vox to push an agenda. This is hilariously bad"journalism". Emphasizing the social possibilities over the medical to push your narrative. Neck strength is a larger reason than "society is sexist "
121 2 . Reply
Diego Figueroa . 2019-04-24
There are higher concussion rates in women sports because men are taught to shake off small hits to the head where female athletes report any minor head injury. If men reported as much as women did the numbered would be way higher for male athletes
121 2 . Reply
snc237 . 2019-04-24
Sooo we really didn’t get an answer did we
121 2 . Reply
LaughTooHard . 2019-04-24
Hard to say. Some women are pretty tough on the ice. There was a female on my HS hockey team my senior year. I don't think most of the guys on other teams knew she was a girl and would bounce her around pretty good. For context, she was by far the best female athlete in school. There was no sport she didn't excel at. It was interesting how the guys protected her. One game in particular I remember her taking a hit and four of our five skaters went after the kid who hit her. I was on the bench and laughed a little because she could take care of herself, but the guys felt the need to defend her. I recall her skating away, but the guys were all in. I don't know how I might have reacted had I been on the ice, but I know I was also protective of her. She didn't play with the guys to be protected, and in the end, she was as tough as the rest of us.
121 2 . Reply
Joachim Rosenkvist . 2019-04-24
"I'll walk it off"
Ever heard your head ring? Most guys respond with "eh?" And shrugs.
121 2 . Reply
Ben Dover . 2019-04-23
2 reasons:

1. Women have weaker neck strength
2. Female players generally play with bad habits (skating with head down)
121 2 . Reply
Mr Man . 2019-04-23
Nobody cares about female sports!
121 2 . Reply
Sham God . 2019-04-23
Lol women’s hockey
121 2 . Reply
twisted logik . 2019-04-23
Because they admit they are hurt. Thats why.
121 2 . Reply
mubarek Daha . 2019-04-23
The fact they don't mention that MALE ice hockey is Also worse that American football
121 2 . Reply
Jack park . 2019-04-23
There'a biological reason. Men are better designed for taking impact, especially male boxers who usually have much thicker necks.
121 2 . Reply
jack jon . 2019-04-22
Women’s soccer has higher concussion rates as well. It’s has to do with neck strength. Just like why women are more likely to tear an acl they are quad dominate and need to do 2 exercises for their hamstrings for every 1 quad exercise. It’s how they are built
121 2 . Reply
WaffleMaster87 . 2019-04-22
Women are weak
121 2 . Reply
SoporificAlloy 1 . 2019-04-22
Because women always try to get payback that’s why
121 2 . Reply
Sebastien O'connor . 2019-04-22
2: 40 who ever said it is intelligence is a F#$&ing moron
121 2 . Reply
Slimeustas . 2019-04-22
1:11 Her last name reminds me of a certain gay priest.
121 2 . Reply
get high . 2019-04-22
because they can't skate (It's just a stupid joke please don't get triggered)
121 2 . Reply
SuperPsychoterror . 2019-04-21
Women have weaker necks therefore their heads take impact harder.
121 2 . Reply
Tomonstr Scoots . 2019-04-21
Y don’t they play with half visors
121 2 . Reply
Handy Adams . 2019-04-21
What is all the confusion about? Men's and Women's bodies are different. Live with it. Maybe the great brains that have been promoting this should have done a little more thinking about the down side.
121 2 . Reply
Joseph Figueroa . 2019-04-21
No one cares
121 2 . Reply
Dave BB . 2019-04-21
Because they play hockey like they drive cars ???
121 2 . Reply
Yolo Swaggins . 2019-04-20
My father used to ref elite womens and mens hockey and he said the trainers would be out on the ice literally every 5 minutes. You wont see the trainer on the ice for the men unless they physically cannot move.
121 2 . Reply
ViolentOrchid . 2019-04-20
You're replying on self reporting from groups that have been socialized to handles injuries in opposite ways. Are there other controls?
121 2 . Reply
Ayesp . 2019-04-20
cause they suck at skating
121 2 . Reply
Ryan Cahill . 2019-04-18
Maybe it’s because guys get hit more so the brain gets stronger with every hit instead of women where they don’t get hit as often as men
121 2 . Reply
Maryann Robbins . 2019-04-18
In women's hockey, too many women skate with their heads down and there's a lack of awareness of what's going on on the ice. When I was playing women's club hockey in college, an opponent skated straight into me while carrying the puck and ended up leaving the ice on a stretcher. I didn't hit her, she actually hit me. I was skating backwards much slower than she was skating forwards. This wouldn't have happened in men's hockey where players know they're going to be checked if they have the puck.
121 2 . Reply