Comparing Severe Injuries by Sex and Sport in Collegiate-Level Athletes: A Descriptive Epidemiologic Study

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Johanna M. Hurtubise York University

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Cheryl Beech York University

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Alison Macpherson York University

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There is a lack of research on sex differences for severe injuries across a variety of sports at the collegiate level.


To compare differences in injury severity and concussion between sexes and collegiate sports.


Descriptive epidemiological study.


1,657 injuries were analyzed from collegiate teams at York University.

Data Collection and Analysis:

Injuries were assessed by a certified or student athletic therapist and were categorized based on degree of tissue and/or joint damage as either severe or nonsevere. Severe injuries included those with third degree damage, while all others were classified as nonsevere. Injury severity was compared between the sexes and across different sports using Pearson chisquare analysis. Logistic regression was used to assess the relative contribution of each covariate.


Males sustained 1,155 injuries, with 13.3% of them being severe, while females sustained only 502 injuries, 17.7% of which were severe. The odds of sustaining severe injuries among female athletes are 1.4 times the odds of male athletes (OR: 1.40, CI 1.05−1.86). Eleven percent of all female injuries were concussions—significantly more than males (χ2 = 11.03, p = .001). The odds of female athletes having a concussion are 1.9 times the odds of a male athlete (OR: 1.85, CI 1.28−2.67).


Based on our analysis, females are at an increased risk of sustaining a severe injury, particularly concussions. These findings highlight the need for future research into sex and sport-specific risk factors. This may provide information for health care professionals, coaches, and athletes for the proper prevention, on-field care, and treatment of sport injuries.

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