Date of Award

Spring 1-1-2015

Document Type


Degree Name

Master of Arts (MA)


Speech, Language & Hearing Sciences

First Advisor

Gail Ramsberger

Second Advisor

Kathryn Hardin

Third Advisor

Anne Whitney


The effects of acute concussion often include cognitive-linguistic changes that have not been adequately defined. Narrative discourse is one measure that has been successfully utilized with individuals suffering from moderate to severe traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) but has been less frequently applied to those with mild TBIs. The present study considered 20 male college athletes who had been screened prior to sustaining a concussion and who then returned for follow-up testing shortly after having sustained a concussion. Ten of these individuals performed well enough on a standardized measure (i.e., the Woodcock-Johnson Tests of Achievement and Tests of Cognition III) that they were cognitively cleared to return to play. The other 10 were held from play for a period of time because their performance on standardized testing had declined significantly. The pre- and post-concussion Cinderella story retells of each athlete were transcribed and then examined with a multi-leveled narrative analysis. Results suggested that neither of the groups’ post-concussion performance significantly declined from their pre-concussion performance. Unexpectedly, the post-concussion narratives of those that were held from play included more thematic units and therefore had greater levels of thematic density than did their pre-concussion narratives. These results are discussed in light of potential reasons for the improved performance, and future avenues for research are presented.