Social influences on return to play following a concussion in female competitive youth ice hockey players


In response to the increasing rates of concussions in youth sport, there has been a heightened interest in the physiological and psychological effects of concussions on young athletes (Stein & Meehan, 2014). However, little is known about the potential influence of significant others (i.e., parents, coaches, trainers, teammates, siblings) on young athletes during the Return to Play (RTP) process following a sport-related concussion. The purpose of this study was to examine the social influences on female youth ice hockey players RTP following a concussion. Using a phenomenological approach, five female competitive youth ice hockey players (Mage=12.2) were interviewed to gain insight into their experiences with concussions (e.g., emotions, feelings) and the RTP process (e.g., who influenced the decision to return). Coaches, teammates, and teachers were perceived as sources of positive influence, while siblings were identified as negative social influences. Parents were found to be positive and negative influences in the RTP process. Study findings support the on-going significance of concussion management education systems (e.g., Heads Up, Think First) for coaches, trainers, athletes, teachers and parents.