Musculoskeletal injuries occur frequently and injured athletes follow a predictable rehabilitation timeline. However, another type of injury, concussion, is a growing concern.
Unlike most musculoskeletal injuries, concussions are invisible (i.e., no swelling, stitches) injuries and often there is no timeline for recovery.
Furthermore, concussed athletes cannot resume activity until their physical symptoms have subsided.
These unique attributes of concussions likely present novel challenges for sport psychology researchers and practitioners, especially since little is known about how athletes describe and make sense of their experiences of the invisible, persistent facets of concussion.
A new study published in the Journal of Sport & Exercise Psychology, looked at the experiences of multiple concussions in professional ice hockey players using hermeneutic, idiographic and inductive approaches within an interpretative phenomenological analysis.
The interviewer was an athlete who had himself suffered multiple concussions and the interviewees were five former US National Hockey League athletes who had retired due to medically diagnosed concussions suffered during their careers.
The men discussed the physical and psychological symptoms they experienced as a result of their concussions and how the symptoms affected their professional careers, personal relationships and quality of life.
The former professional athletes related these symptoms to the turmoil that is ever present in their lives.
These findings are of interest to athletes, coaches, sport administrators, family members, sport psychology practitioners, and medical professionals, as they highlight the severity of short- and long-term effects of concussions.