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An exploratory analysis of concussions in women's professional football

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Lein, Tiffany
Pettit, Michelle
Aug 2017
Head--Physiology; Brain--Concussion--Pathophysiology; Football injuries
There is increasing concern that concussions can lead to short- and long-term neurological complications. Early research has indicated that female athletes may be at a greater risk of concussions and there also is some evidence that females have worse outcomes following a concussion than their male counterparts. While the concussion incidence rate for male football players is well-documented, data specific to female football players are lacking. Therefore, the aim of this study was to explore concussions in the Women's Football Alliance (WFA) during the 2016 football season. Out of 767 athletes who completed the survey issued electronically to all league teams, 8 (11.9%) indicated sustaining at least one concussion in practice or a game during the 2016 WF A football season. Out of the eight subjects who reported a concussion, four (50.0%) indicated sustaining one medically-diagnosed concussion and five (62.5%) indicated sustaining one non-medically diagnosed concussion. In total, nine concussions were reported. Twenty percent (n = 1) of athletes who sustained a non-medically diagnosed concussion failed to report it. No concussions were reported for wide receivers, quarterbacks, special teams, and defensive backs. The average return-to-play time postconcussion varied. One athlete reported returning to play within 72 hours of the concussion diagnosis. Future studies should focus on refining the concussion data collection process in addition to examining the underreporting of concussions among female football players.
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