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Concussions Among University Football and Soccer Players

Delaney, J. Scott MDCM*†; Lacroix, Vincent J. MDCM*†; Leclerc, Suzanne MD*; Johnston, Karen M. MD, PhD*‡

Clinical Journal of Sport Medicine: November 2002 - Volume 12 - Issue 6 - p 331-338
Original Research

Objective A study to examine the incidence and characteristics of concussions among Canadian university athletes during 1 full year of football and soccer participation.

Design Retrospective survey.

Participants Three hundred eighty Canadian university football and 240 Canadian university soccer players reporting to 1999 fall training camp. Of these, 328 football and 201 soccer players returned a completed questionnaire.

Main Outcome Measures Based on self-reported symptoms, calculations were made to determine the number of concussions experienced during the previous full year of football or soccer participation, the duration of symptoms, the time for return to play, and any associated risk factors for concussions.

Results Of all the athletes who returned completed questionnaires, 70.4% of the football players and 62.7% of the soccer players had experienced symptoms of a concussion during the previous year. Only 23.4% of the concussed football players and 19.8% of the concussed soccer players realized they had suffered a concussion. More than one concussion was experienced by 84.6% of the concussed football players and 81.7% of the concussed soccer players. Examining symptom duration, 27.6% of all concussed football players and 18.8% of all concussed soccer players experienced symptoms for at least 1 day or longer. Tight end and defensive lineman were the positions most commonly affected in football, while goalies were the players most commonly affected in soccer. Variables that increased the odds of suffering a concussion during the previous year for football players included a history of a traumatic loss of consciousness or a recognized concussion in the past. Variables that increased the odds of suffering a concussion during the previous year for soccer players included a past history of a recognized concussion while playing soccer and being female.

Conclusions University football and soccer players seem to be experiencing a significant amount of concussions while participating in their respective sports. Variables that seem to increase the odds of suffering a concussion during the previous year for football and soccer players include a history of a recognized concussion. Despite being relatively common, symptoms of concussion may not be recognized by many players.

*McGill Sport Medicine Clinic and Departments of †Emergency Medicine and ‡Neurosurgery, McGill University Health Center, Montreal, Quebec, Canada.

Received March 2002; accepted August 2002.

Address correspondence and reprint requests to J. Scott Delaney, MDCM, McGill Sport Medicine Clinic, 475 Pine Ave. West, Montreal, Quebec, Canada H2W 1S4. E-mail:

© 2002 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc.