**OPEN ACCESS** Concussion through my eyes: a qualitative study exploring concussion experiences and perceptions of male English blind footballers
Richard Wiler, Osman Hassan Ahmed, Willem van Mechelen, Evert Verhagen, Caroline Bolling
Objectives Athletes with impairments play sports with a risk of sustaining head injuries and concussions. However, the scientific knowledge needed to improve care is lacking. This qualitative study explores English blind 5-a-side footballers’ perceptions of concussion, concussion risks and prevention to improve para concussion care.
Methods Nine semi-structured interviews were conducted with male English blind footballers (six current and three retired). Data were analysed by thematic analysis using a six-stage approach.
Results Blind footballers were not sure about the number of concussions they had sustained. They lacked an understanding of what to experience when concussed, and they perceived the diagnosis and experience of a concussion to be different for a person without vision. Perceived concussion severity and previous concussion experiences were key concepts affecting their concussion reporting behaviours. Participants mentioned spatial orientation and sleep are important to function in daily life and were affected by concussions. However, these factors are not adequately included in current assessment tools or clinical guidance for sports-related concussions.
Conclusion Blind footballers suggested the quality and accuracy of reported concussions were impacted by lack of concussion experience, knowledge and concomitant impairment. A better understanding of concussion symptoms and injury mechanisms will improve concussion reporting for athletes with visual impairments. These athlete insights should guide future studies and para sports governing body initiatives to improve concussion reporting, diagnosis and management in para athletes.
CONCUSSION THROUGH MY EYES: A QUALITATIVE STUDY EXPLORING CONCUSSION EXPERIENCES AND PERCEPTIONS OF MALE ENGLISH BLIND FOOTBALLERS
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