SUCCESS: Success in College after Concussion with Effective Student Supports
The goal of this project is to develop and test a peer mentoring program for college students with concussions. We aim to do this through a two-year project which will engage subject matter clinical experts as well as students recovering from concussions in the development of a peer mentoring program and then implement the program, assess outcomes, and identify a plan for sustainability. Our program will pair college students who have sustained concussions, successfully recovered, and returned to school with newly injured students to support their recoveries. Peer mentors will link students to resources that support recovery and most importantly, mentors will facilitate a circle of communication with mentees to build a community of support for students with concussions.
Millions of concussions are sustained annually in the United States, including on college campuses. Mechanisms vary, but include injuries from recreational activities and informal sports, to falls, motor vehicle accidents, and assaults. Emerging literature is considering how recovery from a concussion affects students returning to the classroom, finding academic problems are common immediately after an injury and can linger for months. Studies of college students with concussions have identified academic support and school re-entry as challenging, particularly because students must self-identify and seek out resources.
Peer mentoring has been used with adults with traumatic brain injury (TBI) across the range of severity. Mentoring provides one-to-one support from a more to less experienced peer, sharing knowledge as well as social support. A recent review of peer mentoring with adults with TBI found benefits to mood, behavioral control, and coping from such interventions. The needs of college students with concussions may be particularly appropriate for a peer mentoring approach; however, no existing research has targeted peer mentoring as an intervention for this population. Concussion management resources vary across campuses, but mentors will be versed in the challenges and supports particular to that setting. Students also may relate better to fellow students, interacting more frequently with peers than with medical or educational professionals. Seeing the mentor as a role model for recovery may also help drive recovery in mentees.
Katy H. O’Brien
Assistant Professor, Communication Sciences and Special Education
Clinical Research Scientist, Shepherd Center