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Abstract

Purpose: Sport-related concussion can affect many domains of a patient’s health status. Social functioning is an important consideration, especially for adolescent athletes. Our purpose was to explore adolescent athletes’ social perspectives regarding sport and concussion. Methods: Using a qualitative study design we interviewed 12 interscholastic athletes who had sustained a sport-related concussion. The interviews focused on injury details, and explored the physical, psychosocial, emotional, and spiritual components of sport and health. Themes and categories were identified using the consensual qualitative research process by a three-person research team. A comprehensive codebook that captured the main themes and categories resulted. Results: Following concussion, participants discussed two primary themes: perceptions regarding the social aspects of sport and social perspectives regarding their concussion. Specific categories related to the social aspects of sport included: friendships and family and decision to participate based on peers. Specific categories regarding the social perspectives of the concussion included uncertainty of the diagnosis, perceptions of others regarding their injury, being ashamed of the concussion, parent and peer roles, and communication and expectation about their concussion. Conclusions: Participation in sport and removal from sport following a concussion have significant social implications for adolescent athletes. Specifically, the perceptions of peers, parents/guardians, and others regarding the injury can influence reporting of symptoms and recovery following concussion. Limited communication regarding recovery and expectations post-concussion may cause undue social pressures to return to activity prematurely. Providing a supportive environment in which patients can recover from concussion while engaging with peers and teammates is important. Anticipatory guidance, with education regarding the possible signs and symptoms, risk factors pre- and post-injury, and recovery expectations following a concussion are important to include in post-injury management and should be known to all stakeholders.

Author Bio(s)

Tamara Valovich McLeod, PhD, ATC, FNATA is the John P. Wood Endowed Chair for Sports Medicine, professor, and director of the athletic training programs at A.T. Still University in Mesa, AZ.

Justin DiSanti, PhD completed a post-doctoral research fellowship in pediatric sports medicine at A.T. Still University and currently consults as a sports psychologist.

Richelle Williams, PhD, ATC is an assistant professor in the master of athletic training program at Drake University in Des Moines, IA.

Cailee Welch Bacon, PhD, ATC is an associate professor in the athletic training programs at A.T. Still University in Mesa, AZ.

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