Date of Award

8-1-2019

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Department

Nursing

First Advisor

Regena Spratling, PhD, RN, CPNP

Second Advisor

Susan J. Kelley, PhD, RN, FAAN

Third Advisor

Shelley W. Linens, PhD, ATC

Abstract

Concussions are a common injury for participants in recreational and organized sports activities and are a major public health issue. Females are more likely than males to suffer concussions in gender-comparable sports, and their symptoms may be more severe and longer lasting than in males. Although adolescent and young adult females with sports-related concussions (SRC) may require more treatment interventions than males, we know little about their experiences and the best approaches for their care. Therefore, the purpose of this study was to explore the experiences of late adolescent and young adult females with one or more SRC. Interpretive phenomenology provided a framework to describe and interpret the experiences of 15 late adolescent and young adult females with a history of SRC. Participants ranged in age from 18 to 24 years. An audiotaped semistructured interview was conducted with each participant. Five themes and one pattern emerged during analysis of data from the interviews. The themes were “Telling myself I’m fine,” “So much pain,” “I’m out of the loop,” “I didn’t feel like myself,” and “People don’t understand.” This study explored the day-to-day experiences of late adolescent and young adult women with SRC. These young women did not initially realize the severity of their injury, particularly if they had not suffered a previous concussion. Pain, particularly headache pain, affected their daily life. Sensitivity to light and sound increased headache pain and restricted activities for the young women during recovery. Missing school, sports activities, and social activities contributed to feelings of isolation. The inability to use technology caused the young women to feel disconnected from their peers. Participants felt that they were different from their normal selves during their recovery. Although they understood that their symptoms were not clearly visible to others, the young women were frustrated by the lack of concussion knowledge among their peers. This study contributes to the body of knowledge by helping nurses and other healthcare providers to understand the needs of young women with SRC so that better care can be provided. Recommendations for nursing practice, education, and research were identified in this study.

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