Brain, Biology and Behavior, Center for


Date of this Version


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Neurotrauma Reports, 2021


Neurotrauma Reports is the open access companion journal to the Journal of Neurotrauma. Published by Mary Ann Liebert, Inc,


Symptom inventories are generally only collected after a suspected concussion, but regular in-season monitoring may allude to clinical symptoms associated with repetitive subconcussive impacts and potential undiagnosed concussions. Despite sex-specific differences in symptom presentation and outcome of concussion, no return-to-play protocol takes sex into account. The objective of this study was to monitor a cohort of contact-sport athletes and compare the frequency and severity of in-season concussion-like symptom reporting between sexes. Graded symptom checklists from 144 female and 104 male athlete-seasons were administered weekly to quantify the effect of subconcussive impacts on frequency and severity of in-season symptom reporting. In-season, mean symptom severity score (SSS) (p = 0.026, mean difference of 1.8), mean number of symptoms (p = 0.044, mean difference of 0.9), max SSS (p < 0.001, mean difference of 19.2), and max number of symptoms (p < 0.001, mean difference of 6.8) were higher in the females. The females’ survey results showed differences between elevated and concussed SSS (p < 0.005, mean difference of 28.1) and number of symptoms reported (p = 0.001, mean difference of 6.6). The males did not have a difference in SSS (p = 0.97, mean difference of 1.12) nor in number of symptoms (p = 0.35, mean difference of 1.96) from elevated to concussed athletes. Rugby players report concussion-like symptoms in the absence of a diagnosed concussion in-season. Female athletes reported elevated symptom frequencies with greater severities than the males, but both sexes reported considerable levels throughout the season.