How Psychosocial Factors Influence Athletes' Recovery and Rehabilitation From Injury, Including the Return-To-Play Process
Positive emotions such as happiness, relief, and excitement have been reported as well. The attainment of rehabilitation goals and the prospect of recovery may engender a host of positive emotional responses throughout the course of rehabilitation. It seems that these responses are influenced by a wide array of personal factors (eg, athletic identity, previous injury experience, injury severity, injury type, current injury status) and situational factors (eg, life stress, social support satisfaction, timing of the injury).
Consequently, athletes usually benefit from input from all providers throughout the process of returning to play. Unfortunately, athletes often pay the price for poorly coordinated recovery plans within the return-to-play process.
Often times an athlete will use physical activity to cope with stress. When athletes are injured and unable to engage in physical activity they may have difficulty dealing with their daily stresses. Smith (1990) states that “the development of neuroses in fitness fanatics deprived of exercise was at least partially because their life stress prior to injury or illness had been managed by physical activity rather than by articulating emotional concerns.” Furthermore, the injury can actually produce additional stress that may induce emotional disturbance. Hardy (1992) suggests that “the major sources of stress that have been reported by sports performers include fear of failure, concerns about social evaluation by others, lack of readiness to perform and loss of internal control over one’s environment.” Separation from the team takes an emotional toll on injury athletes. Athletes enjoy camaraderie among teammates and they rely on each other for support. Consequently, “an injury that even temporarily halts participation causes tear in the fabric of well- being through which uncomfortable or unacceptable feelings may emerge”.
Finally, injured athletes must have a positive and patient attitude about their progression from the initial training to right the way through to competition. From reviewing literature in the area of sport psychology and injury, it is clear to see that there are many different opinions as to what and why affects a persons psychological state as a result of sustaining injury. There is a need for much further research concerning this topic area and sport psychologists continue to work with injured athletes in order to better to understand what they are going through. This will help athletes to obtain a quicker and more successful recovery with their return from injury.
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Hardy, L. (1992, July). Psychological stress, performance, and injury in sport. Abstract retrieved on February 20, 2006 from PubMed database.