Lived Experiences of Adolescent Athletes Following Sport-Related Concussion

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Orthopaedic Journal of Sports Medicine


Background: Previous studies have identified the effect of sport-related concussion on health-related quality of life through the use of patient-reported outcome measures. However, there has been little research exploring the underlying mechanisms that influence these perceptions of health-related quality of life among adolescent athletes who have sustained a sport-related concussion. Purpose: To explore the psychosocial aspects of concussion among adolescent athletes. Study Design: Case series; Level of evidence, 4. Methods: A total of 12 interscholastic athletes (4 girls, 8 boys; mean ± SD age, 15.7 ± 1.7 years; grade level, 10.2 ± 1.4) were interviewed via a semistructured interview protocol between 15 and 30 days postinjury. Data analysis was guided by the consensual qualitative research tradition. Themes and categories emerged through consensus by a 3-person research team, and bias was minimized through the use of multiple-analyst triangulation. Results: Participants identified numerous postconcussion symptoms that resulted in increasing difficulty with emotions (eg, irritable, easily frustrated), roles at school (eg, concentration difficulties, fatigue), and roles in their social environment (eg, letting the team down, not being able to contribute to sport). As a result, participants expressed how they tried to minimize or mask symptoms to decrease the potential of being viewed differently by their peers. Conclusion: Adolescent athletes perceived a significant effect of sport-related concussion on numerous areas of psychosocial and emotional health and well-being. Anticipatory guidance—with education regarding the possible signs and symptoms, risk factors, and recovery expectations following a concussion—is important to include in postinjury management. A better understanding of sport-related concussion and expected recovery could help to improve perceptions of this injury among interscholastic athletes. Additionally, best practices should be identified to assist health care professionals and school personnel in the development of temporary adjustments or formal academic adjustment policies in the secondary school setting, therefore ensuring that the patients receive the support that they need to maintain their roles as students.



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