The Epidemiology of Concussions: Number and Nature of Concussions and Time to Recovery Among Female and Male Canadian Varsity Athletes 2008 to 2011 : Clinical Journal of Sport Medicine

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Original Research

The Epidemiology of Concussions

Number and Nature of Concussions and Time to Recovery Among Female and Male Canadian Varsity Athletes 2008 to 2011

Black, Amanda M. CAT(C), MSc; Sergio, Lauren E. PhD; Macpherson, Alison K. PhD

Author Information
Clinical Journal of Sport Medicine 27(1):p 52-56, January 2017. | DOI: 10.1097/JSM.0000000000000308



To provide incidence rates and days to symptom resolution and cognitive recovery stratified by sex and sport at a Canadian institution.

Study Design: 

A retrospective chart analysis.


Seven hundred fifty-nine varsity level athletes competing in men's football, men's and women's soccer, men's and women's volleyball, men's and women's basketball, men's and women's ice hockey, women's field hockey, women's rugby, men's and women's tennis, men's and women's water polo, men's and women's swimming, badminton, cross-country, and track and field in the 2008 to 2009 season through the 2010 to 2011 season.

Main Outcome Measures: 

Incidence of concussion, days to symptom recovery, and days to cognitive recovery as measured by clinical interpretation using the sports concussion assessment tool (SCAT)/SCAT2 and Immediate Post-Concussion Assessment and Cognitive Testing (ImPACT) with baseline and follow-up data.


A total of 81 concussions were reported and diagnosed among 759 athletes. Significantly, more female athletes were concussed than male athletes (13.08%–7.53%, respectively; P = 0.014) with the highest rates in women's rugby [incidence density (ID) = 20.00 concussions per athlete-season], women's ice hockey (ID = 18.67 per athlete-season), and men's basketball (ID = 20.00 per athlete-season). Sex differences in symptom recovery and cognitive recovery were not significant.


The incidence of concussion across multiple sports in a Canadian varsity athlete population is of concern. There are inconsistencies found between the time an athlete claims to have no symptoms and the time of neurocognitive recovery as measured by computerized neurocognitive testing. Therefore, objective computerized testing is recommended to ensure that athletes are functionally recovered before return to play.

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