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.

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