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Reconceptualizing recovery after concussion (Kemp et al., 2023)

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Version 2 2023-03-31, 21:19
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posted on 2023-03-31, 21:19 authored by Amy M. Kemp, Katy H. O’Brien, Tracey Wallace

Purpose: Typical measures of recovery from concussion—such as symptom scales, neurocognitive testing, or exertion measures—may not capture individualized experiences of concussion. This report examines how college students with concussion interact with and consider their recovery.

Method: Sixteen college students who sustained concussions while in college completed 40- to 75-min semistructured interviews. All were enrolling to become mentors in a peer mentoring program for students with concussion. Questions addressed experiences as a college student with concussion, life changes following concussion, and role of peers in recovery. Using phenomenological reduction, analysis focused on the phenomenon of recovery and motivation for participation in a mentoring program.

Results: Two main themes were found: (a) What Recovery Looks Like and (b) Gaining Perspective, Learning to Cope and Adapting to Change. Thirteen participants denied the label of “recovered” even though all had been deemed recovered and discharged from medical care. Instead, two subthemes emerged within What Recovery Looks Like: Ongoing Recovery and Reconceptualizing Recovery. Perceptions of recovery were influenced by effort, capacity, and resilience. In the second theme, students described strategies, resources, and supports used to cope with their injuries; most commonly used was emotion-focused coping.

Conclusions: College students with concussion consider recovery as an ongoing process rather than a dichotomized condition. Student experiences may not be reflected in commonly used symptom scales or objective assessments.

Supplemental Material S1. Mentor interview guides. 

Kemp, A. M., O'Brien, K. H., & Wallace, T. (2023). Reconceptualizing recovery after concussion: A phenomenological exploration of college student experiences. American Journal of Speech-Language Pathology, 32(2S), 867–882.

Publisher Note: This article is part of the Special Issue: Select Papers From the International Cognitive-Communication Disorders Conference.


Funding for the current work was provided through a grant from the Andee’s Army Foundation awarded to Tracey Wallace and Katy H. O’Brien.