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Variables

As previously discussed, age is an important variable in the occurrence and severity of concussion. In adolescent sports, the incidence of concussion is highest in football and ice hockey. This is likely due to the fact that both of these sports involve high impact contact between players. Concussions represent 8% to 11% of all football injuries and 12% of all ice hockey injuries (6). These sports are followed by soccer, wrestling, basketball, field hockey, baseball, softball, and volleyball in terms of incidence of concussion (7). In football specific positions played are also associated with concussion risk.

Genetics may also play a role in susceptibility to concussion. A gene that encodes a class of lipid transport proteins in brain cells has been found to be associated with severity of traumatic brain injury. However, this gene has yet to be shown to predispose individuals to a higher risk of concussion (8). If such a link was found, though, it may be possible to identify high-risk athletes and monitor them more closely.

Gender is also related to the incidence of concussion in adolescent athletes. A study of adolescent soccer players demonstrated that females are more likely to suffer a concussion than males (9). However, the authors did not comment on a possible reason for this. Perhaps the different pace of development in females versus males could account for some of this discrepancy. Research also suggests that symptoms following concussion may also differ in males and females (6).

Protective headgear is also an important variable. Although such headgear cannot entirely prevent concussion, helmets designed with specifically targeting padding have been found to be particularly protective against concussion in adolescents. Luckily, such equipment is standard in high contact sports, such as rugby and football, but other sports, such as soccer, could also benefit from adopting these safety precautions.