Sport-related head impact biomechanics research has been male-centric and focused primarily on American football and ice hockey, which do not address popular sports in which both sexes participate. The purpose of this study was to quantify college female and male lacrosse and soccer head impact biomechanics.
Head impact biomechanics were collected from college lacrosse and soccer players across two Division 1 college athletic programs (96 female athletes, 141 male athletes; age, 19.8 ± 1.3 yr; height, 174.8 ± 9.2 cm; mass, 72.4 ± 11.7 kg). We deployed helmetless head impact measurement devices (X2 Biosystems xPatch) before each event. Peak linear and rotational accelerations were log-transformed for random intercepts general linear mixed models, and subsequently categorized based on impact magnitude for additional categorical analyses.
Most linear (69.4%) and rotational (72.3%) head impact accelerations sustained by our study cohort were categorized as mild. On average, male athletes sustained impacts with higher linear accelerations than females (P = 0.04), and lacrosse athletes sustained higher linear acceleration impacts than soccer athletes (P = 0.023). Soccer athletes sustained significantly higher-magnitude impacts during competitions versus practices (linear, P < 0.001, rotational, P < 0.001), whereas lacrosse athletes sustained higher-magnitude impacts during practices versus competition (linear, P < 0.001; rotational, P < 0.001). Male athletes sustained higher accelerations in competitions versus practice (linear, P = 0.004; rotational, P < 0.001), whereas female athletes sustained higher accelerations in practice versus competitions (linear, P < 0.001; rotational, P = 0.02). There were no interactions between sex and sport on impact magnitude.
Male athletes and lacrosse athletes experience higher-magnitude head impacts. Given the limited literature in this area, future research should continue characterizing head impact biomechanics in women’s and nonhelmeted sports as well as validate nonhelmeted head impact technologies.