How Psychosocial Factors Influence Athletes' Likelihood of Injury
In order to understand what psychological processes might be contributing to quality of performance, it is important to look at the specific psychological constructs with theoretical relevance to optimal performance. Majority of studies done in sport have been conducted from a social cognitive perspective, which places an emphasis on an individual’s thought processes to explain the reasons for their behavior. In themselves, psychological skills are distinct yet interrelated components separated for research and training purposes.
Demographic factors such as age have also been found to influence rehabilitation adherence. For example, Brewer and colleagues found that age moderated the relationship between psychological factors and 2 kinds of adherence: home exercise completion and home cryotherapy completion. Older patients were more adherent when they were self-motivated and perceived high levels of social support, whereas younger patients were more adherent when they were highly invested in the athlete role as a source of self-worth.
One of the ways in which the injured athlete's psychological response to sport injuries has been explained is through the Integrated Model of Response to Sport Injury Rehabilitation. According to the model, an individual athlete's cognitive appraisal of the injury (ie, how the athlete views the situation), as well as the athlete's emotional (ie, how he or she feels about the injury) and behavioral (ie, how he or she acts and reacts to the injury situation) responses are influenced by a range of personal (eg, injury characteristics and individual differences) and situational (eg, sport, social, and environmental influences, including social support and the sports medicine team) factors. The model recognizes the interaction among the cognitive appraisal and emotional and behavioral responses as a dynamic and bidirectional cyclic process, which in turn has an effect on both physical and psychological recovery outcomes (Ray R, 1999). Thus far, a wealth of evidence exists in support of the model. Most athletes appear to be psychologically affected (emotional response) when injured, and these psychological responses can have a significant influence on the quality and speed of the sport-injury rehabilitation process. Support for the use of psychosocial strategies (a behavioral response) during sport-injury rehabilitation has also been documented in the literature. For example, goal setting, imagery, positive self-talk, and relaxation strategies have been useful in helping athletes cope with pain, stress, and anxiety and address self-efficacy, self-esteem, and confidence-related apprehensions, as well as concerns with rehabilitation motivation and adherence. In addition, the role of sports medicine professionals (a situational factor) in influencing injured athletes' cognitive appraisal of the injury, emotional and behavioral responses, the rehabilitation process, and the physical and psychological recovery outcomes is also important (Kottler JA, 1986).
From the numerous psychological attributes that have been investigated in relation to sports injuries, only competitive anxiety has been shown to be associated with injury occurrence. A personality profile typical of the “injury-prone” athlete does not exist. However, several studies have shown a certain readiness to take risks (lack of caution, adventurous spirit) on the part of injured athletes. In this review, the current knowledge regarding the relationship between psychological factors and sports injuries is presented and a stress theory model is developed.
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