The Lived Experience Prior to and Following Sport-Related Concussions Sustained in High School Athletics
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Background: Over 1.6 million sport-related concussions (SRC) occur annually in America, impacting the health of U.S. athletes of all ages.1-6 To date, the majority of SRC research has been quantitative, so there is a lack of qualitative investigations of how a SRC has impacted an individual’s lived experiences.
Purpose: This retrospective qualitative pilot study examined the lived experiences of former student-athletes and how sustaining SRCs impacted their lives.
Methods: Two semi-structured interviews were conducted with two individuals from Texas State University who were former athletes. Interviews were audio-recorded, transcribed verbatim, and thematically analyzed to identify emergent themes across both interviews.
Results: Two overarching themes emerged during analysis: The impact of being a student-athlete and the impact of sustaining a SRC. Both participants described how being a student-athlete helped them grow as an individual personally and socially, with four sub-themes identified (personal development, academic development, athlete identity, relationships). Additionally, five sub-themes were revealed highlighting how sustaining SRC impacted their lives (signs and symptoms, emotion, academics, interpersonal relationships, clinical care). Representative quotes for each will be presented.
Discussion: Being a student-athlete provided opportunities to develop relationships with others while learning a variety of life skills. Sustaining a SRC affected multiple aspects of life and receiving support from relevant others was shown to positively impact recovery. These findings can be applied to clinical use for the recovery process to guide how athletic trainers and other healthcare professionals treat SRC.