The Effect of Gender on Post-Concussion Symptom Ratings by Pennsylvania State University Athletes

Open Access
Robinett, Katherine Wallace
Area of Honors:
Bachelor of Science
Document Type:
Thesis Supervisors:
  • Peter Andrew Arnett, Thesis Supervisor
  • Kenneth N. Levy, Honors Advisor
  • Symptoms
  • Gender
  • Concussion
Mild traumatic brain injury (mTBI), also known as concussion, has become an increasingly popular area of interest for academics and health professionals, as well as the general public, which may, in part, be due to many highly publicized cases of concussion in professional and collegiate athletes. Recent research by Hunt et al. (2010) suggests that there may be anywhere from 1.6 to 3.8 million sports-related concussions each year in the United States. Research on sports-related concussion has emphasized the importance of baseline and post-concussion neuropsychological testing in both the monitoring and treatment of mTBI. Self-reporting of symptoms by concussed athletes is another significant factor that must be considered. The aim of the present study is to examine whether males and females report a different number or type of symptoms both at baseline and post-concussion. Previous research on the topic has been mixed. Two studies (Covassin et al., 2006; Martinez et al., 2010) found that females report a higher mean symptom score at baseline. A follow-up study by Covassin et al. (2007) found that males reported a greater mean symptom score than females following a concussion. A second study by Broshek et al. (2005), reported the opposite, with females endorsing a greater mean symptom score than males. The present study examines the symptom score reports for 623 Pennsylvania State University Athletes who completed a baseline examination, as well as the symptom scores for 69 of those same individuals who also completed a post-concussion examination. It was found that females reported a greater mean number of symptoms at baseline, and this is mostly due to greater reporting of emotion-related symptoms. However, no main effect of sex was found post-concussion. The implications and limitations of these findings are discussed.