The parental concussion experience: a phenomenological exploration of concussions from parents' perspectives

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University of New Brunswick


Sport related concussions (SRC) are a growing concern for sport administrators, health practitioners, parents and athletes. Parents have significant influence in their child’s/children’s leisure behaviour and are also responsible for the safety of their children. Parents must help their child understand risk and how to recognize danger as children and youth are at the greatest risk to encounter dire consequences. Using a phenomenological approach, the purpose of this study was to understand the lived experience of a parent who had a child (age 15-17) suffer a SRC. It further sought to understand how that experience influences decisions around their daughter’s/son’s sport participation. Purposive sampling was used to recruit seven parents and data were collected through semi-structured interviews. The findings suggested that parents were not satisfied with the information they were supplied by sport organizations and health professionals and felt they had to educate themselves. Parents also found that the relationship with educators, coaches, and health professionals played a significant role in the recovery process and either helped or hindered their experience. Furthermore, parents found themselves occupied with managing their child’s reaction to the recovery process. Parents also struggled with their decisions around supporting future sport participation. While parents were fearful for their child’s safety, they were also fearful of their child’s reaction to and experience with being removed from sport. The study found that parents were conflicted with how to move forward despite supporting their child’s return to sport.