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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.

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%20%20GOALS%20Exec%20Summary_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%3dpubmed

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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50 Comments

    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
Beth Calvert . 2018-12-09
WOAHHHHHH I’m sorry but I play ice hockey in a boys team and there are no rules about not being about to charge, I get charged all the tim ends I do charges and when I do boys on the other team always go “ooooo” or make some dumb comment and it’s horrible, just because I’m a girl doesn’t mean I’m not allowed to charge,
121 2 . Reply
APG RedKnight . 2018-12-08
Didn’t know whirls played hockey
121 2 . Reply
Charles Garneau . 2018-12-08
Pardon my ignorance but how can a non-contact sport have a higher concussion rate than a contact sport? I'm not trying to be sexist or anything, the statement in this title just doesnt make sense to me
121 2 . Reply
Magdalena Borowiecka . 2018-12-06
Not being sexist but did anyone even think if women are just more injury prone
121 2 . Reply
AlexF 21 . 2018-12-05
No, it’s because I want to play for my team because it’s my dream to play college sports. Duh.
121 2 . Reply
Diet Coke . 2018-11-27
Horse back riding is above all else.
121 2 . Reply
Xero TV . 2018-11-25
Y’all know women’s hockey doesn’t allow hitting
121 2 . Reply
Emily DaWolf . 2018-11-24
What about cheerleading?
121 2 . Reply
EJ1214de . 2018-11-22
Nah women just weaker and thats why they get hurt more often








btw its a joke
121 2 . Reply
Jack Martelli . 2018-11-20
Women and Men are built differently, its not some stupid hormone reporty thing, it's simple, stopping being so offended by the fact that men on average are stronger, it's biological! JUST SAY THE TRUTH!!
121 2 . Reply
Candie Bunny . 2018-11-17
Riley is shook
121 2 . Reply
Jasmine _ . 2018-11-15
Damn the feminism is real in these comments.
121 2 . Reply
josh the king . 2018-11-12
Who told them to play
121 2 . Reply
Ben . 2018-11-11
sort answer women are soft
121 2 . Reply
Gabby S . 2018-11-08
Ohh
121 2 . Reply
JonJon . 2018-11-06
Are men able to play through the concussions better than females can? Do females get worse concussions than men? Has there been a long time study done on the male/female bodies from high contact sports in order to make a logical decision about this? Reporting is one thing as men are told to suck it up by social norms while women are encouraged to talk about things. We need studies on this subject in great detail before we start slinging antecedents out there.
121 2 . Reply
Daniel Jones . 2018-11-04
I think the reason is obvious, women's bodies are built in the same way as men
121 2 . Reply
nestor alvarez . 2018-11-04
Maybe because woman and men aren’t equal when it comes to sports, athleticism and body in general.
121 2 . Reply
Frej Pettersson . 2018-11-01
FAKE NEWS WHY THE HELL DO YOU HAVE IRRELEVANT SIDE OF TYLER MOTTE IN THE FIRST 20 SECONDS OF THE VID? DISLIKE
121 2 . Reply
xcarflyx . 2018-11-01
It's because women are less physically aware.

Watxh a men's game and a women's game of the same sport. They often make less intuitive, less safe, and awkward decisions that puts them in very vulnerable positions resulting in injuries that shouldn't occur.

It's purely based on athleticism, awareness, and strength.
121 2 . Reply
Skillz Static . 2018-10-30
Did anyone else notice that stye on her eye
121 2 . Reply
Mark galvan . 2018-10-29
Do u have sum spare coochie meam
121 2 . Reply
Spanky Morgan . 2018-10-26
I think it’s because women are more animal like playing sports. Men will hit each other and then apologize while women will hunt the other down and catch each other after the game idk women scare me
121 2 . Reply
Richard l . 2018-10-24
Goes to Havard then to hockey is as dumb you can get. You are throwing you future away.
121 2 . Reply
Taki . 2018-10-23
Sexist.





Oh wait.
121 2 . Reply
White Vans . 2018-10-23
From a hockey players perspective, women learn how to hit and start hitting in games much later then men, I think it’s 2 or 4 years. This just causes them to hit someone in a bad way, or they would not be able to take a hit because they don’t know how to.
121 2 . Reply
iNCOGNETO . 2018-10-19
MEN aren't scared of playing hard women don't play as hard and when they do they don't want to get hert men could care less if they are hert. This is fact just take a look in a high school gym look who is trying harder. MEN are just more competitive which makes men not want to stop because of injury.
121 2 . Reply
Jake McBride . 2018-10-18
They get more concussions because they can’t play the game correctly
121 2 . Reply
JustLikeAlly . 2018-10-18
But we’re still less than men’s hockey. Also women cannot hit when they play other women so that should lower it
121 2 . Reply
Mickaylee G . 2018-10-18
I play girls hockey
121 2 . Reply
Erick Bachtle . 2018-10-17
Hockey is the best
121 2 . Reply
MLG Baconator . 2018-10-16
Hey she can always play beer league
121 2 . Reply
George W. Bush . 2018-10-16
As a hockey player, when I "think" I have a concussion or the medical team checks me out I know I definitely don't tell anyone at all...I love playing and if I show weakness my coach will have to take action, so I just blow it off and I guess migraines for the rest of my life is cool
121 2 . Reply
Ryan Fanelli . 2018-10-15
From experience playing hockey at a high level I know that boys and men don’t want to get taken out after they get hit and definitely don’t report it I never reported my injuries from bruised ribs to broken arms. I did this so I could play when I had ready. Also there’s no hitting in women’s hockey so thats the source of their concussions
121 2 . Reply
J W . 2018-10-13
I noticed in high school that the girl athletes were always hurt from sports you would not expect. I observed the amount of injuries girls would have was overwhelmingly more then the boys while playing less dangerous sports. Just wondering if anyone else noticed this either or if this is an anomaly.
121 2 . Reply
J W . 2018-10-13
How do you get a concussion in non contact hockey? 😂
121 2 . Reply
Mami Devil . 2018-10-12
I feel like women act more agressive in the sports to feel like they are better athletes, I've seen that happen when women act agressive in sports
121 2 . Reply
Mami Devil . 2018-10-12
It's easy. Some men don't report.
121 2 . Reply
Jack Coleman . 2018-10-08
I think it is the thought of that women in hockey are not taught to brace for impact when I men’s hockey you have to be on the look out and this goes for all sports that men and women both play the style of play is very different and with that the contact level is still there but men are taught to look for and brace for contact when the women are not taught that and I think that if we teach women at young age to play the game like the men do it then it may help with this concussion problem
121 2 . Reply
I'm an apache Helicopter . 2018-10-07
It’s because men don’t report concussions
121 2 . Reply
Sebastian Blue . 2018-10-06
This video was really good until you guys tried to send the “Men and women are equal” agenda down our throat.
121 2 . Reply
Moist bagels . 2018-10-04
I don’t think reporting symptoms makes up for the disparity, women are just weaker
121 2 . Reply
Dallon Weekes Wannabe . 2018-10-02
I think personally because most girls I know are really competitive. I am extremely competitive. I’ll easily throw away all my senses to win. Once I sprained My ankle and played hockey for another hour. I literally didn’t care. I just wanted to win.
121 2 . Reply
EJR77 . 2018-09-27
It’s not that men are trying to be tougher or be perceived as tougher, it’s the fact that there is more outside pressure to play through concussions
121 2 . Reply
avinash adapa . 2018-09-26
Stop playing these games, ffs.
121 2 . Reply
Khanysha C . 2018-09-23
a lot of people don’t think so but female sports are hardcore. my sister played rugby in high school and got several levels of concussions.
121 2 . Reply
Elijah johnson . 2018-09-23
People think vox is ruling out biological differences but no he is just not stating the obvious
121 2 . Reply
Elijah johnson . 2018-09-23
What it is not tough to ride out a injory but toughness is measured by durability so to ride one out is tough
121 2 . Reply
Isai Torres . 2018-09-22
I feel like men report much less concussions , then woman actually do. I don’t actually think they get more concussions than football players do.
121 2 . Reply