The Incidence, Cost, and Burden of Concussion in Women's Rugby League and Rugby Union: A Systematic Review and Pooled Analysis
King, DA; Hume, PA; Hind, K; Clark, TN; Hardaker, N
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BACKGROUND: The extent of concussion injury in the rugby codes for women is unclear. OBJECTIVE: Our aim was to review all published studies reporting concussion injuries from match and training participation in rugby codes and report the pooled data estimates for rugby league and union concussion injury epidemiology. METHODS: We conducted a systematic literature analysis of concussion in rugby league and rugby union for published studies from January 1990 to July 2021. Data from 16 studies meeting the inclusion criteria were extracted for women's concussion injuries and were subsequently pooled. Costs from Accident Compensation Corporation (ACC) data were attributed to the results to provide cost estimates. RESULTS: The pooled analysis match injury incidence of women's concussion was higher for rugby league (10.3 per 1000 match hours) than rugby 15 s (2.8 per 1000 match hours) or rugby 7 s (8.9 per 1000 match hours). There was a fourfold difference in the pooled incidence of concussion in women's rugby league (risk ratio [RR] 4.53, 95% confidence interval [CI] 1.8-11.3]; p = 0.0001) when compared with rugby 15 s. There was also a ninefold higher risk of a concussion during match participation compared with training participation for women's rugby 15 s (RR 9.3, 95% CI 1.29-66.78; p = 0.0070). The total estimated costs for the concussions reported were NZ$1,235,101. For rugby 7 s, the pooled concussive injury burden was 33.2 days. CONCLUSIONS: Our pooled analysis clarified the extent of concussion injury and the possible associated costs at several levels of the game for women's rugby codes. The pooled mean days lost because of concussions was 33 days. As this was considerably longer than the 7- to 10-day expected timeframe outlined in the Concussion in Sport Consensus statement, these guidelines need to be updated to include sex-specific differences.