Columbia University Medical Center

Among College Athletes, Concussion Risk May Be Higher in Women


(This article includes information from a press release from the American Academy of Neurology.)

In a study of athletes at Columbia University, researchers found that women may be more susceptible to concussions than men.

Findings of the study will be reported by the researchers—Columbia neurologist James Noble, MD, and Columbia medical student Cecilia Davis-Hayes—at the American Academy of Neurology’s annual meeting in Boston, April 22 to 28.

The researchers looked at the medical records of 1,203 athletes who played at Columbia University between 2000 and 2014. (Columbia has collected data about concussion on all its athletes since 2000).

Among male athletes, 17 percent (140/822) had experienced at least one concussion during their collegiate career. Among female athletes, the rate was 23 percent (88/381).

Though women experienced a higher rate of concussion, they recovered and returned to play as quickly as the male athletes.

“Why are women more likely to experience concussion? Is it that they’re physiologically experiencing concussion differently? Are they reporting their concussion in a different manner? This study can’t answer these questions, but it unearths the follow-up questions,” Dr. Noble says.


Ms. Davis-Hayes plans to analyze the data to see if athletes who have returned to play after a concussion experience higher rates of physical injuries.