Talking with young children about concussions: an exploratory study.

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Abstract

BACKGROUND

Concussion education for children early in their participation in organized sport may help shape lasting attitudes about concussion safety. However, existing programming and research focus on older ages.

METHODS

Qualitative interviews about concussions were conducted with twenty children between the ages of six and eight. Structural, descriptive and pattern coding were used to organize the transcribed interviews and identify emergent themes.

RESULTS

Eighteen of the participants indicated that they had heard of the word concussion, with 12 describing the injury as related to the brain or head. The most frequently described mechanisms of injury were impacts to the head or falls, and symptoms tended to be somatic, such as generalized pain. The most frequently endorsed strategy to avoid sustaining a concussion was to 'follow the rules.' Multiple participants referenced parents as an informal source of information about concussions.

CONCLUSIONS

While most participants demonstrated some awareness about concussions, there were clear knowledge gaps that can be addressed with developmentally appropriate concussion education programming. Consistent with their developmental stage, interventions targeted at children in this age range may be most successful if they use basic logic, concrete ideas, provide rules to be followed and engage parents in dissemination.

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