Term of Award

Spring 2015

Degree Name

Master of Science in Kinesiology (M.S.)

Document Type and Release Option

Thesis (open access)

Copyright Statement / License for Reuse

Digital Commons@Georgia Southern License


Department of Health and Kinesiology

Committee Chair

Tamerah Hunt

Committee Member 1

Jody Langdon

Committee Member 2

Jim Mcmillan


Context: Concussed patients require an individualized assessment and treatment plan in order to improve the outcomes associated with their overall recovery. A new model has been created to explain the psychological response to sport concussion injury and rehabilitation process. This model highlights pre-injury and post-injury factors affecting the recovery process including emotions, coping and social support. Understanding the emotional disturbances, coping behaviors and social support available to concussed athletes may provide valuable information for the healthcare team in management and care for the concussed athlete.

Purpose: To identify and describe the emotions, coping mechanisms and social support perceived by Division I collegiate athletes during recovery from sport concussion

Design: Grounded theory, exploratory study.

Methods: Focus groups were conducted in the athletic training facility at a NCAA Division I University in Southeast Georgia. Seven Division I male (n=3) and female (n=4) collegiate athletes utilizing criterion sampling (previous history of a sport-concussion while participating in their Division I sport within the last 2 years, full return to learn and participation) participated in this study. Semi-structured interviews were conducted during two focus group sessions. A data triangulation method was used to establish themes associated with 1) emotions following injury 2) coping strategies and 3) social support received. Credibility and trustworthiness was established through member checks.

Results: Common themes consisted of: 1) Participants associated feelings with concussion-related symptoms. 2) Participants felt excitement to return to play. 3) Participants used maladaptive coping strategies during the concussion recovery process. 4) Participants did not seek support, but received social support. 5) Participants had support from their families. 6) Participants perceived overall adequate support.

Conclusion: Following concussion, Division I Collegiate athletes demonstrate maladaptive coping strategies and utilize social support during recovery. The participants had varying length of recovery, however frustration was a primary emotion. Clinicians should encourage athletes to voice emotions and provide an active social support network throughout the concussion recovery process. It appears that emotions, coping strategies and social support may contribute to improved recovery outcomes following concussion; which supports the Weise-Bjornstal’s model of the psychological response of sport concussive injury. Future research should be conducted to examine effective interventions using positive coping strategies and social support from all involved in athletics.

Key words: Sport-related concussion, emotions, coping, social support, focus groups

Research Data and Supplementary Material