CENTER FOR WOMEN'S HEALTH AND WELLNESS

School of Health and Human Sciences

Introduction

Concussions are more prevalent in contact and collision sports, where physical interaction is a part of the activity relative to non-contact/collision sports. In contact sports (e.g., soccer) physical contact is acceptable but not necessary. In collision sports (e.g., football) intentional hitting or colliding is part of play. Female participation in football has risen, yet research examining preseason balance and cognition scores in female collision sport athletes is limited. Preseason data is often used to make appropriate return-to-play decisions after a potential concussion. Exposure to different physical contact prevalence relative to spot participation could lead to different balance and cognition performance in the preseason data.

Purpose

Compare female collision sport athletes to previously published normative values from male and female combined contact and collision sport groups to determine whether sex-specific and sport type-specific normative values differ.
Hypothesis: Female collision sport athletes would have different performance on balance and cognitive tests relative to combined sex and sport-type athletes.

Discussion

The data suggest that female collision sport athletes have very different preseason cognition scores relative to male and female combined contact and collision sport athletes, but only small differences in balance exists between the groups. It is plausible that the prevalence of previous exposure to physical interaction within their sports could partially account for these differences. These data support our recent work showing that balance and cognitive performance in female football players is different relative to male collegiate and professional football players. Thus, concussion protocol and return-to-play guidelines may need to be specific to both sex and sport type.