Gender Differences in Head Impacts Sustained by Collegiate Ice Hockey Players
This study aimed to quantify the frequency, magnitude, and location of head impacts sustained by male and female collegiate ice hockey players during two seasons of play.
During two seasons, 88 collegiate athletes (51 females, 37 males) on two female and male National Collegiate Athletic Association varsity ice hockey teams wore instrumented helmets. Each helmet was equipped with six single-axis accelerometers and a miniature data acquisition system to capture and record head impacts sustained during play. Data collected from the helmets were postprocessed to compute linear and rotational accelerations of the head as well as impact location. The head impact exposure data (frequency, location, and magnitude) were then compared between genders.
Female hockey players experienced a significantly lower (P < 0.001) number of impacts per athlete exposure than males (females = 1.7 ± 0.7, males = 2.9 ± 1.2). The frequency of impacts by location was the same between genders (P > 0.278) for all locations except the right side of the head, where males received fewer impacts than females (P = 0.031). Female hockey players were 1.1 times more likely than males to sustain an impact less than 50 g, whereas males were 1.3 times more likely to sustain an impact greater than 100 g. Similarly, males were 1.9 times more likely to sustain an impact with peak rotational acceleration greater than 5000 rad·s(-2) and 3.5 times more likely to sustain an impact greater than 10,000 rad·s(-2).
Although the incidence of concussion has typically been higher for female hockey players than male hockey players, female players sustain fewer impacts and impacts resulting in lower head acceleration than males. Further study is required to better understand the intrinsic and extrinsic risk factors that lead to higher rates of concussion for females that have been previously reported.
Available from: Per Gunnar Brolinson
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Concussive head injuries have received much attention in the medical and public arenas, as concerns have been raised about the potential short- and long-term consequences of injuries sustained in sports and other activities. While many student athletes have required evaluation after concussion, the exact definition of concussion has varied among disciplines and over time. The authors used data gathered as part of a multiinstitutional longitudinal study of the biomechanics of head impacts in helmeted collegiate athletes to characterize what signs, symptoms, and clinical histories were used to designate players as having sustained concussions.
Players on 3 college football teams and 4 ice hockey teams (male and female) wore helmets instrumented with Head Impact Telemetry (HIT) technology during practices and games over 2-4 seasons of play. Preseason clinical screening batteries assessed baseline cognition and reported symptoms. If a concussion was diagnosed by the team medical staff, basic descriptive information was collected at presentation, and concussed players were reevaluated serially. The specific symptoms or findings associated with the diagnosis of acute concussion, relation to specific impact events, timing of symptom onset and diagnosis, and recorded biomechanical parameters were analyzed.
Data were collected from 450 athletes with 486,594 recorded head impacts. Forty-eight separate concussions were diagnosed in 44 individual players. Mental clouding, headache, and dizziness were the most common presenting symptoms. Thirty-one diagnosed cases were associated with an identified impact event; in 17 cases no specific impact event was identified. Onset of symptoms was immediate in 24 players, delayed in 11, and unspecified in 13. In 8 cases the diagnosis was made immediately after a head impact, but in most cases the diagnosis was delayed (median 17 hours). One diagnosed concussion involved a 30-second loss of consciousness; all other players retained alertness. Most diagnoses were based on self-reported symptoms. The mean peak angular and rotational acceleration values for those cases associated with a specific identified impact were 86.1 ± 42.6g (range 16.5-177.9 g) and 3620 ± 2166 rad/sec( 2 ) (range 183-7589 rad/sec( 2 )), respectively.
Approximately two-thirds of diagnosed concussions were associated with a specific contact event. Half of all players diagnosed with concussions had delayed or unclear timing of onset of symptoms. Most had no externally observed findings. Diagnosis was usually based on a range of self-reported symptoms after a variable delay. Accelerations clustered in the higher percentiles for all impact events, but encompassed a wide range. These data highlight the heterogeneity of criteria for concussion diagnosis, and in this sports context, its heavy reliance on self-reported symptoms. More specific and standardized definitions of clinical and objective correlates of a "concussion spectrum" may be needed in future research efforts, as well as in the clinical diagnostic arena.
Available from: Jason P Mihalik
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ABSTRACT: Purpose: This study compares the frequency and severity of head impacts sustained by football players on days with and without diagnosed concussion and to identify the sensitivity and specificity of single-impact severity measures to diagnosed injury. Methods: One thousand two hundred eight players from eight collegiate football teams and six high school football teams wore instrumented helmets to measure head impacts during all team sessions, of which 95 players were diagnosed with concussion. Eight players sustained two injuries and one sustained three, providing 105 injury cases. Measures of head kinematics (peak linear and rotational acceleration, Gadd severity index, head injury criteria (HIC15), and change in head velocity (Δv)) and the number of head impacts sustained by individual players were compared between days with and without diagnosed concussion. Receiver operating characteristic curves were generated to evaluate the sensitivity and specificity of each kinematic measure to diagnosed concussion using only those impacts that directly preceded diagnosis. Results: Players sustained a higher frequency of impacts and impacts with more severe kinematic properties on days of diagnosed concussion than on days without diagnosed concussion. Forty-five injury cases were immediately diagnosed after head impact. For these cases, peak linear acceleration and HIC15 were most sensitive to immediately diagnosed concussion (area under the curve = 0.983). Peak rotational acceleration was less sensitive to diagnosed injury than all other kinematic measures (P = 0.01), which are derived from linear acceleration (peak linear, HIC15, Gadd severity index, and Δv). Conclusions: Players sustained more impacts and impacts of higher severity on days of diagnosed concussion than on days without diagnosed concussion. In addition, of historical measures of impact severity, those associated with peak linear acceleration are the best predictors of immediately diagnosed concussion.
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Despite negative neuroimaging findings using traditional neuroimaging methods such as MRI and CT, sports-related concussions have been shown to cause neurometabolic changes in both the acute and subacute phases of head injury. However, no prospective clinical study has used an independent physician-observer design in the monitoring of these changes. The objective of this study was to evaluate the effects of repetitive concussive and sub-concussive head impacts on neurometabolic concentrations in a prospective study of two Canadian Interuniversity Sports (CIS) ice hockey teams using MR spectroscopy (MRS).
Forty-five ice hockey players (25 men and 20 women) participated in this study. All participants underwent pre- and postseason MRI, including spectroscopy imaging, using a 3-T MRI machine. The linear combination model was used to quantify the following ratios: glutamate/creatine-phosphocreatine (Cr), myoinositol/Cr, and N-acetylaspartate (NAA)/Cr. Individuals sustaining a medically diagnosed concussion were sent for MRI at 72 hours, 2 weeks, and 2 months after injury.
No statistically significant differences were observed between athletes who were diagnosed with a concussion and athletes who were not clinically diagnosed as sustaining a concussion. Although no statistically significant longitudinal metabolic changes were observed among athletes who were diagnosed with a concussion, the results demonstrated a predictable pattern of initial impairment, followed by a gradual return to ratios that were similar to, but lower than, baseline ratios. No significant pre- to postseason changes were demonstrated among men who were not observed to sustain a concussion. However, a substantively significant decrease in the NAA/Cr ratio was noted among the female hockey players (t((13)) = 2.58, p = 0.02, η(2) = 0.34).
A key finding in this study, from the standpoint of future research design, is the demonstration of substantively significant metabolic changes among the players who were not diagnosed with a concussion. In addition, it may explain why there are few statistically significant differences demonstrated between players who were diagnosed with a concussion and players who were not diagnosed with a concussion (that is, the potency of the independent variable was diminished by the fact that the group of players not diagnosed with a concussion might be better described as a subgroup of the players who may have sustained a concussion but were not observed and diagnosed with a concussion). This result suggests that definitions of concussion may need to be revisited within sports with high levels of repetitive subconcussive head impacts. Future analysis of these data will examine the relationships between the modes of MRI (diffusion tensor imaging, MRS, and susceptibility-weighted MR imaging) used in this study, along with other more sensitive evaluative techniques. This type of intermodal comparison may improve the identification of concussions that were previously dependent on the unreliable self-reporting of recognized concussion symptomatology by the athlete or on poorly validated neuropsychological tests.
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