With athletes an injury could take them out of the game at any moment. The job of a great athletic trainer is to not only to provide rehabilitation for the physical injury, but to also treat the mental injury as well. Often an athlete will struggle emotionally with having an injury because their personal identity is tied to their sport. In an article written for the University of Rhode Island, Courtney Klenk states that “the sport is so important to an athlete it is likely they feel that they are losing a significant part of themselves.” Because getting injured can take away what most athletes have devoted large amounts of time to, the experience can be traumatic. Athletes who have acquired an injury express similar reactions seen in trauma victims that were outlined by the United States Department of Veterans Affairs (Klenk, 2006). These reactions included: fear, anxiety, avoidance, anger, irritability, grief and depression (Klenk, 2006). During injury rehabilitation, athletes tend not to give full effort in fear of re-injury. Some athletes are reluctant to return to training as a result.
It is imperative that the athletic trainer (or other medical professional) pay attention not only to the physical aspect of treatment but the psychological as well. While some athletes talk freely about their feelings, others are more reluctant to seek assistance for psychological issues stemming from athletic injuries. For this reason, there should be a management plan in place to assure that each athlete has all the support necessary to progress through treatment. The ultimate goal is assist with the over all well being of the athlete. Much research has been done regarding the effectiveness of psychological intervention when dealing with injuries and should be utilized when designing a program to implement during rehabilitation. According to the NCAA, a student-athlete’s mental health may be viewed as secondary to their physical health however it is just as important for a healthy performance. For more information please visit: www.sportsmed.org or www.ncaa.org/health-safety
1. Klenk, Courtney A., “Psychological Response to Injury, Recovery and Social Support: A Survey of Athletes at an NCAA Division I University” (2006). Senior Honors Projects. Paper 9.
2. Reese Schwab Laura M., Pittsinger, Ryan & Yang Jingzhen., “Effectiveness of Psychological Intervention Following Sport Injury” Journal of Sport and Health Science Vol. 1 Issue 2, September 2012 pp 71-79.