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Exploring the psychological aspects of sport injury
Exploring the psychological aspects of sport injury

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2 Do reactions to injury change over time?

Time may be a great healer, but is that true of sport injuries? Do psychological reactions to injury change over time?

Grief response models suggest that they do but, as you have seen, grief response models have limitations. It is intuitive to believe that over time an individual may feel differently about their injury and indeed this does seem to be the case. For example, Forsdyke et al. (2016) found in several of the studies they reviewed that as rehabilitation progressed closer towards the point where individuals returned to sport, they began to develop a more positive mood. However, Forsdyke et al. (2016) also found that performance related anxiety often increased as individuals prepared to return to sport following injury.

Similarly, Ardern et al. (2013), in their review of eleven studies, found that while emotions generally become more positive as rehabilitation and recovery progress, fear is a prominent emotion when an individual returns to sport. Emotions can fluctuate and therefore as an individual progresses through their sport injury journey they will likely experience highs and lows and fluctuating psychological states.

Next you will explore how Lois’s feelings about her injury have changed over time.

Activity 3 Impact of psychological factors: over time

Timing: Allow about 15 minutes

Read the information about Lois’s progress in the box below and then answer the following questions.

  1. How have Lois’s responses to her injury changed over time (since Session 6, Activity 1)?
  2. What impact have these changes had on her behaviours and rehabilitation outcomes?
Case study: Lois’s rehabilitation progress

Since having a session with her sport psychologist Amir, Lois has started to feel a bit more motivated. Amir has helped her to put things in perspective and to focus on developing a more positive attitude towards her recovery. Lois has begun to accept the injury and has become more determined. As a consequence, her adherence to rehabilitation sessions has drastically improved and she is starting to see some progress. This is making her feel more optimistic about her recovery.

Amir has taught Lois some techniques she can use to help her manage her emotions and to get through difficult times. To address her feelings of isolation from her training group, Lois now does her rehabilitation exercises at the track while they are training. She is also helping Wilma to coach some of the younger athletes.

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Lois appears to have moved from a negative mindset to a more positive one. She was previously feeling quite down (Activity 1). The session with the sport psychologist has boosted her motivation and increased her adherence to her rehabilitation sessions, which will in turn have a positive impact on her rehabilitation outcomes.

You will explore some of the psychological techniques that Amir has taught Lois in Sessions 7 and 8.