Objective

To determine if baseline concussion symptoms scores in athletes prior to the start of their season vary by sport or sex.

Background

Concussion is a clinical diagnosis that includes an appropriate clinical scenario, reporting of symptoms through a post concussion symptom score list, and an objective neurologic exam. Symptom reporting is considered when determining if an athlete has recovered from their concussion. Recent studies have shown that athletes at baseline can report symptoms at a rate high enough to meet criteria for post concussion syndrome without any history of concussion. The number of symptoms reported was found to be higher in female athletes than male athletes, but to date there has not been a clear consideration of how these symptoms compare across different sports played.

Methods

Retrospective chart review of baseline pre-participation sport exams from 2016. More than 2000 charts were reviewed for age, sex, sport played, number of past concussions. Baseline concussion symptom checklist scores were reviewed for number of symptoms reported and severity of symptoms reported. Comparisons were made between groups comparing age, sex, sport played, and number of previous concussions prior to the start of this season.

Results

Female athletes in all sports compared reported more baseline symptoms and more severe symptoms compared to their male counterparts. Athletes of the same sex, male or female who participated in collision or contact sports reported less baseline symptoms than athletes who participated in noncontact sports.

Conclusion

Contact and collision sport athletes report at baseline less concussion checklist symptoms than noncontact sport athletes in all age groups compared. This leads to many questions about why certain athlete populations report less symptoms. Symptom reporting could be due to underlying physical traits in different sports, or player psychology differences between sports.

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