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Young Athletes' Concerns About Sport-Related Concussion

The Patient's Perspective

Stein, Cynthia J. MD, MPH; MacDougall, Robert BS; Quatman-Yates, Catherine C. DPT, PhD; Myer, Gregory D. PhD; Sugimoto, Dai PhD; Dennison, Roberta J. MD; Meehan, William P. III MD

Clinical Journal of Sport Medicine: September 2016 - Volume 26 - Issue 5 - p 386–390
doi: 10.1097/JSM.0000000000000268
Original Research

Objective: Few studies have examined the experience and concerns of the concussed athlete. The purpose of this study was to identify the most pressing concerns of athletes with concussion.

Design: Cross-sectional survey of athletes who presented for evaluation of a new sport-related concussion during an 8-month period.

Setting: Tertiary-level sports medicine division of a large academic pediatric medical center.

Participants: One hundred twenty one patients (67 male, 54 female) aged 8 to 18 years who had sustained a sport-related concussion participated in the study by responding to “What is the worst thing for you about having a concussion?” on the study questionnaire. Questionnaires were completed in the clinic waiting room before the visit with a provider.

Intervention: Inductive content analysis was used to identify themes in the responses to the study question.

Main Outcome Measures: Age, sex, sport played at the time of the current injury, history of previous concussion, known contacts with concussion, and subjective report of worst aspect of concussion.

Results: Seventy respondents (57.9%) cited symptoms, and 68 (56.2%) reported loss of activity as the worst part of concussion, including 17 (14.0%) who listed both symptoms and loss of activity.

Conclusions: Over half of concussed athletes indicate that the most distressing part of the injury is loss of activities, which may result from symptoms of the injury itself and/or the prescribed treatment.

Clinical Relevance: Health care providers should not underestimate the degree to which symptoms and loss of activities affect young athletes' general well-being. In addition to the negative impact of concussion symptoms, there is an obvious cost of physical, cognitive, and social activity restrictions for patients recovering from sport-related concussions that should be explicitly addressed.

*Division of Sports Medicine, Department of Orthopaedics, Boston Children's Hospital, Boston, Massachusetts;

Division of Occupational and Physical Therapy, Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center, Cincinnati, Ohio;

Division of Sports Medicine, Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center, Cincinnati, Ohio;

§Sports Medicine Biodynamics Center and Human Performance Laboratory, Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center, Cincinnati, Ohio;

Departments of Pediatrics and Orthopaedic Surgery, College of Medicine, University of Cincinnati, Cincinnati, OH;

The Micheli Center for Sports Injury Prevention, Waltham, Massachusetts; and

#Tufts University Family Medicine Residency at Cambridge Health Alliance, Malden, Massachusetts.

Corresponding Author: Cynthia J. Stein, MD, MPH, Division of Sports Medicine, Boston Children's Hospital, 319 Longwood Ave, Boston 02115, MA (

W. P. Meehan receives research funding from the National Hockey League Alumni Association through the Corey C. Griffin Pro-Am Tournament. W. P. Meehan also receives royalties from ABC-Clio Publishing and Wolters-Kluwer Publishing. The other authors report no conflicts of interest.

Received May 05, 2015

Accepted July 21, 2015

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