Can Anthropometric Measurements Explain Gender Differences in Concussion Rates Among High School Basktball, Soccer and Lacrosse Players?

Principle Investigators: R. Dawn Comstock, PhD, Assistant Professor Center for Injury Research and Policy

Institution: Nationwide Children’s Hospital and Ohio State University College of Medicine Department of Peds and College of Public Health Div of Epi-PI

Title: Can Anthropometric Measurements Explain Gender Differences in Concussion Rates Among High School Basketball, Soccer and Lacrosse Players?

Sports-Related concussions are serious injuries that account for 5 to 10% of all injuries in high school girls and boys soccer, basketball, and lacrosse. Rates of concussion in these gender comparable high school sports have been shown to differ with females sustaining significantly more concussions than their male counterparts. However, reasons for these observed differences are a subject of debate as it is currently unclear what relative roles bio physiology/anthropomology and sociocultural constructs may play. At least one recent study found that among young adult soccer player’s females exhibited less effective head mass and neck strength compared with men and also had greater head acceleration, increasing their risk of concussion. It is unknown if these findings are generalizable to a larger population of adult soccer players, to high school soccer players, or to basketball or lacrosse players of any age range. Additionally, anthropometrics range widely within as well as between genders. There is a need to determine if anthropometric measurements could be used in the high school setting to predict which athletes may be at increased risk of concussion. Effective preventive interventions must be based on sound knowledge of risk factors.

The objective of this study is to determine if readily obtainable anthropometric measurements that can be captured by certified athletic trainers in the high school setting can be used to predict concussion risk among high school soccer, basketball, and lacrosse players. The specific aims are 1) to enroll a large national sample of athletes from schools participating in the National High School Sports-Related Injury Surveillance Study (High School RIO™). 2) to have the ATC at participating schools record anthropometric measurements (head circumference, neck length, neck circumference, and neck strength) at the beginning of the season for sports of interest, 3) to utilize High School RIO™ to conduct surveillance for concussion among these athletes over the course of the study, and 4) to evaluate potential associations between anthropometric measurements and concussion between and within genders.

Study Design:
Prospective surveillance study in a national cohort of high school athletes.

Materials and Methods:
ATC’s will use a cloth measuring tape and simple tension scale to capture anthropometric measurements for all athletes pre-season, then High School RIO™ will be used to conduct surveillance for concussion. Concussed athletes’ measurements will be compared to non-injured athletes’ measurements at the end of the study period.

Main Outcome Measures:
Correlation between anthropometric measurements and concussion.

This study is expected to contribute significantly to the body of science in the important search for effective concussion prevention methods.