Why women’s ice hockey has a higher concussion rate than football

“ooh, my goodness.” But in college, In a 2015 NCAA survey, female hockey players
reported concussions more often than male football players. And that’s consistent with previous surveys
showing women’s ice hockey on par with men’s wrestling, football, and hockey. “ohhh!” So, compared to other athletes, why do women
playing hockey have such a high rate of concussion? “So I was a full-time student at Harvard
playing Division 1 hockey for my school team and leaving school for different stints.” “Pucci flipshot and a score!!” “Josephine Pucci…” “…third goal of the year for Josephine
Pucci…” “The morning of a couple gold medal
games for the world championships, I was submitting papers that had to be submitted for school
and then would suit up in the USA jersey that evening.” “Number 24, Josephine Pucci” In 2014, Josephine Pucci won a silver medal
at the Sochi winter Olympics, but she almost didn’t make it. “ I got my concussion ten months before
Olympic tryouts and I remember just, kind of, being on my
elbows looking at the bench and… “…I was so close to, you know, hoping
to reach my lifelong goal of hopefully competing in the Olympics and then suddenly I was in
a position where I wasn’t sure if I would be able to attend tryouts because of symptoms.” After overcoming her injury to play Sochi,
Pucci returned to school and decided to end her hockey career. “…making that phone call…that I’d
be stepping away…was one of the hardest things I’d ever done…but after I called
and spoke with them at USA Hockey it just felt so right.” Compared to college sports like basketball
or tennis, Ice hockey is faster,
played on harder surfaces, And involves more collisions. Which explains part of why players are getting
concussions, But answering the other part, “why women?”,
is less intuitive because it isn’t only hockey. In soccer,
basketball, and other comparable men’s sports,
women have a higher rate of concussion. In fact, all the experts I talked to agreed
that What experts can’t agree on, is why… “Females athletes are more knowledgeable about signs and symptoms..” for me, neck strength is a big component…” “where a woman is in her period,” “of course the style, level of play” “X differences between the structures of these nerve fibers” But there are some common factors researchers point to: “a lot of people forget that this” is also based upon reporting. Zachary Kerr authored the 2015 NCAA survey
and now researches concussions at the University of North Carolina. So, it may not be the fact that men are sustaining
less concussions than women. Maybe women may have a better knowledge
of concussions. Perhaps we as men are more stubborn with our healthcare. Women are more
likely to disclose issues in general and we are just seeing that transferred over to the
topic of concussions. Besides a willingness to report, social bias
can still be a factor. “It’s not just about the individual. It’s also about his or her interpersonal
relationships with teammates, with their parents, with the coaches. So, for men, the cultural, social gender roles
are that we can be aggressive, But, for women, there’s always that stereotype
of them having to follow that rule of being sugar, spice and everything nice. “A lot of times that’s said in a sort of
negative connotation type of way, as if women are weaker for reporting symptoms and that’s
something that I just really disagree with and I feel like, if women are in fact reporting
symptoms at a higher rate than men then they should be applauded for that. You don’t show how tough you are by playing
through concussion symptoms.” Another factor is style of play. Because unlike
the men’s game, which allows checking, it isn’t legal in women’s hockey. When they’re children, girls and boys play
by the same rules, but when they turn into teenagers, boys are
allowed to start checking. There’s even a manual for it. “That’s the biggest difference between
men and women, is the checking, But, when I played boys hockey, I played checking
and I don’t think I ever had a concussion playing boys hockey. By college, men learn to be on the lookout,
which doesn’t mean female players avoid contact, but they might focus on speed and skill instead of anticipating being hit on the ice. “Every time I had the puck, I was ready to brace myself for a hit. You were forced to keep your head on a swivel. Whereas with the women, you’re not supposed to be getting hit.” “I don’t know if it necessarily falls on not being ‘taught’ the right way, but I think part of it is definitely
not being instilled with this idea of constantly being prepared for body contact.” “Beyond sociocultural factors, researchers are
asking whether the explanation could be biological. There’s also the physiological aspects that
need to be explored.” Things such as: neck strength,
hormones, the neurostructural aspects as well. So far, scientific answers aren’t conclusive,
but that shouldn’t prevent change in the meantime. “We can make changes now, until the science
catches up in regards to what factors are really contributing to the vulnerabilities of, you know, getting
head injuries.” In the NFL, advanced research, Rule changes, “Hitting a runner in the helmet area” And injury protocols “…undoubtedly going through concussion
protocol…” Only became possible once the league acknowledged
data linking football to brain injuries. For female hockey players in college,
there’s a similar need for change. “A lot of times I get the question, ‘would
you let your kids play ice hockey’ and my answer may beat around the bush to a certain
extent but it’s usually: Well, I hope by the time I have kids that we’ll know more.” That’s the end of this video, but there’s a lot more I wish I could have covered here, so I’m gonna leave some links below, where you can find more information about the research that’s being done, as well as resources for anyone that’s interested in the topic. Thanks for watching.


  1. A note on the data: Many of you have noticed that the survey cited at 0:24 contradicts the fact that female athletes report concussions at a higher rate than men playing a comparable sport. However, despite that data point, the general understanding, established through many years of study by different researchers using a variety of methods, is that women do report higher rates of concussion. Although I wasn't able to squeeze all the data in the video, I've listed several sources in the description above. If you'd like to learn more, make sure to check them out. Thanks for watching! -Mac

  2. Women’s hockey, despite not being able to check, has always seemed much more physical. When I played or watched we were much more comfortable getting up in each others space. We’d punch each other out of they was and use more physical contact to get each other out of the way, while still not breaking the rules. When I played with boys anytime I’d get in their space to get them away from the goal or puck, they’d move out of the way. In women’s hockey we’d also elbow each other and purposely fall onto each other in place of checking, but since we aren’t taught how to receive physical contact like men are when learning to check, it can became more dangerous.

  3. I played a pro-level sport as a male, and my sister played soccer at a high level. Idk if it’s just male culture, but I feel like I was always told to suck it up and get back out there. I eventually just took four Advil and got back to it. I stopped mentioning issues I was having unless I needed stitches, had symptoms of a spinal injury, or was going to pass out. My sister took the needed time, had trainers looking at her every injury, etc. I really got sick of that “suck it up” culture, and I left after a back injury. That’s my opinion on it. It’s a suck it up culture, so men just don’t say anything unless it’s truly significant and can’t be hidden. When I would limp off the field, questions would be asked. But if I was in the same amount of pain, but had full function of my legs/knees, I wouldn’t say anything because I didn’t want to be the weakling on the team.

  4. Because women have weaker bones, joints, ligaments and muscles compared to men.
    Now try to picture what would happen if women were allowed to compete with and against men in sports…

  5. Women’s hockey sucks anyways. I’m sure I’ve had Atleast 3-4 concussions but I’ve only actually been diagnosed with one. Tell them to stop being complete wimps and just play the sport their payed to play

  6. I’m still boggled by the fact that this real. I can understand why men don’t report concussions as much as women in hockey since men’s hockey is way more intense and competitive than women hockey. And In that case they don’t want to loose there roster spot But how do women get so many more concussions when there is no hitting or fighting. And are required to wear cages/bubbles?

  7. Hockey player here.

    Part of the reason why female hockey players have high concussion rates (even though women’s hockey has no body checking) is because of bad habits.

    When girls start playing hockey, they often aren’t taught about the physical aspects of the game. While there’s no checking, there are still collisions and a high amount of body contact. (Important to note that most girls hockey players play in all girls’ leagues, but some do play with boys until middle/high school)

    With most girls thinking they don’t have to worry about being on the receiving end of a huge hit, females hockey players (even high level ones) continually do the one thing that you’ll rarely see male players in high school leagues and higher do: have their head down while skating.

    Male hockey players don’t skate with their head down because they know that if they do, they’re gonna end up unconscious in the hospital for a few days. Because there’s no checking in women’s hockey, females don’t think about body contact – even though women’s hockey still has a lot of collisions – so they don’t pick their heads up to see if someone’s coming at them.

    This is a bad habit that’s not been corrected by a coach at younger levels, and it carries on to big leagues. You can watch High level Girls’ high school hockey, Women’s D1 hockey, even the Women’s Olympic hockey games – you’ll always see them skate with their heads down, and that lack of preparedness for body contact is part of the reason why Women’s hockey has a high concussion rate.

  8. We don't check but have a a higher rate of head injury. Women have the skills but I would like to see how women wrestling compare. Maybe they are just better at reporting

  9. If no one teaches the women how to actually hit correctly then theres gonna be a lot of cross checks to the head in defense aka head trauma. So yea it actually dosent surprise me one bit….

  10. well you got to realize that football helmets have been changed so much now it's less likely for them to get concussion

  11. Uh…so what was your point? concussions happen in contact sports? There was no statistically significant conclusions drawn, where are you going with this? If you want to try and draw a valid conclusion with such a sensationalist title, I would expect better research, knowledge of statistics, and proving your point, not just hypothesizing. But hey, good try.

  12. In women's hockey, too many women skate with their heads down and there's a lack of awareness of what's going on on the ice. When I was playing women's club hockey in college, an opponent skated straight into me while carrying the puck and ended up leaving the ice on a stretcher. I didn't hit her, she actually hit me. I was skating backwards much slower than she was skating forwards. This wouldn't have happened in men's hockey where players know they're going to be checked if they have the puck.

  13. Maybe it’s because guys get hit more so the brain gets stronger with every hit instead of women where they don’t get hit as often as men

  14. You're relying on self reporting from groups that have been socialized to handle injuries in opposite ways. Are there other controls?

  15. My father used to ref elite womens and mens hockey and he said the trainers would be out on the ice literally every 5 minutes. You wont see the trainer on the ice for the men unless they physically cannot move.

  16. What is all the confusion about? Men's and Women's bodies are different. Live with it. Maybe the great brains that have been promoting this should have done a little more thinking about the down side.

  17. Women’s soccer has higher concussion rates as well. It’s has to do with neck strength. Just like why women are more likely to tear an acl they are quad dominate and need to do 2 exercises for their hamstrings for every 1 quad exercise. It’s how they are built

  18. There'a biological reason. Men are better designed for taking impact, especially male boxers who usually have much thicker necks.

  19. 2 reasons:

    1. Women have weaker neck strength
    2. Female players generally play with bad habits (skating with head down)

  20. Hard to say. Some women are pretty tough on the ice. There was a female on my HS hockey team my senior year. I don't think most of the guys on other teams knew she was a girl and would bounce her around pretty good. For context, she was by far the best female athlete in school. There was no sport she didn't excel at. It was interesting how the guys protected her. One game in particular I remember her taking a hit and four of our five skaters went after the kid who hit her. I was on the bench and laughed a little because she could take care of herself, but the guys felt the need to defend her. I recall her skating away, but the guys were all in. I don't know how I might have reacted had I been on the ice, but I know I was also protective of her. She didn't play with the guys to be protected, and in the end, she was as tough as the rest of us.

  21. There are higher concussion rates in women sports because men are taught to shake off small hits to the head where female athletes report any minor head injury. If men reported as much as women did the numbered would be way higher for male athletes

  22. Leave it to Vox to push an agenda. This is hilariously bad"journalism". Emphasizing the social possibilities over the medical to push your narrative. Neck strength is a larger reason than "society is sexist "

  23. Wow…women are different than men. Don’t tell that to a liberal or they will silence you with their screaming and blue hair.

  24. I'm not sure I beleive this…I have watched alot of womens hockey…they are not allowed to hit or fight…so where are the injuries coming from?

  25. Maybe it is because when younger at the lower levels women are not allowed to hit. Thought they are not taught to hit or take a hit. I have noticed when hitting was taken away from my sons league five years ago now my youngest has had two concusions because of bad hits and him not receiving right.

  26. The sport is actually called “Hockey”. The other variations such as Ball Hockey, Floor Hockey and Field Hockey are branch offs of the original game played on ice.
    So just to simplify; Hockey is played on ice so saying Ice Hockey is somewhat redundant.

  27. My two cents, but F=m*a. You get more acceleration with skates on and athletes playing hockey are usually bigger than your average John Doe, hence the bigger force transferred through the hit. Add to that biological factors that are not favorable to women and perhaps the reluctance of men to declare the symptoms because of the bigger money involved and the fear of looking weak and it makes perfect sense

  28. Along with sports like tennis, name one injury without that happened to a tennis player that was lethal

  29. All of these are men’s sports so that’s why their getting beat up stay in the kitchen but their still gonna get beat up

  30. I love how much they sugarcoat the fact that since they start hitting later they just can’t take hits

  31. Why tf does it have to be female when in part of the vid it clearly shows that mens hockey have higher rates

  32. just call it hockey, if your gonna call it "ice hockey", then say "american football" because most of the world realize its called hockey just like americans know its just football.

  33. Because males feel weak and they have been taught to deal with pain rather than reporting it.

  34. Rugby players have lower concussion rates than football players. Why? because they learn to tackle in a manner that protects their head.

  35. Although this is only for reported concussions. I know personally I only had one reported concussion in football, but there have been multiple times I was hit in the head, and I remember being confused, and having headaches for weeks that I just didn't tell people about

  36. Females with poor concussion resistance weren't selected against in nature because they weren't experiencing as many concussions as men.

  37. Isn't it just that women report concussions more I mean isn't it obvious? It's been like that ever since elementary school hasn't it?

  38. Football gets dedicated equipment bc it’s so big. I have a lax helmet and it’s $300 but it’s basically a bike helmet compared to like a speed flex.

  39. Their rate is still lower than men's hockey. Maybe hockey is just inherently rougher than football. Wait…why tf is this important? I'm confused.

  40. woman are weak and fragile they aren't meant to do physical work and if you put them in this environment they are bound to be broken

  41. Help me I almost got one yesterday but my back is sprained too 1of bed rest (edit-BEAVERS AND NORTH DAKOTA

  42. Is soccer (football) men are wussy‘s, they get taped in the leg and they start to roll around holding their face, a women could get payed out and still try to get back up and keep it in play. Also I think that women have a much stronger mental will.

  43. To put it simply, women have smaller, more feeble brains that can be more easily shaken inside the head

  44. Better knowlege/disclosure does not explain a six-fold rate of injury.
    The style of play is also a pretty bad argument. Men get hit more and harder. There is a definite biological component to it.

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