Master of Science (MSc)
Faculty of Science
Dr. Jennifer Robertson-Wilson
Dr. Michael Cinelli
Objective: Social support is a complex, multi-dimensional construct that is a vital coping mechanism for athletes experiencing sports-related concussion (SRC). Typically reported sources of social support include coaches, athletic therapist, and family/friends. This qualitative study, guided by a phenomenological orientation, aimed to understand previously concussed female athletes’ perceptions of the social support provided by their teammates. The study also explored how social support, or lack of social support, affected athletes as they navigated their concussion recovery.
Methods: Five participants were recruited through purposive and snowball sampling. Data collection consisted of background questionnaires and one semi-structured one-on-one interview. Interviews were transcribed and thematically analysed.
Results: Two themes were identified that illuminated participants’ perspectives of their perceived social support over the course of their concussion recovery journey: (1) People Don’t Understand; and (2) Timing is Everything. Theme 1 captures the general lack of knowledge and understanding about concussions and how to interact with concussed individuals. Theme 2 captures the role that time plays in the recovery journey, both in terms of taking the time needed to let one’s injury heal, and how the timing of the injury can affect the perceptions of support concussed individuals receive.
Conclusion: When examining previously concussed female athletes’ perceptions of social support provided by their teammates, it is apparent that each athlete experiences SRC and social support differently during their recovery. Due to the unique manifestation of every concussion, there is no universal, one-size-fits-all approach to supporting an athlete suffering from SRC.
Iltshishin, Brianna; Robertson-Wilson, Jennifer; and Cinelli, Michael, "Teammate social support for female athletes recovering from sports-related concussion" (2023). Theses and Dissertations (Comprehensive). 2595.
Available for download on Thursday, September 24, 2026