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

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1.1 Lois and Travis: coping with sport injury

In this section you will explore how our case studies Lois and Travis cope with sport injury.

Case study: Lois’s reaction to her sport injury

Lois is a very dedicated athlete and devotes a lot of time to athletics. She trains every day and most of her friends and her boyfriend are fellow athletes. Before her Achilles tendon injury, her training had been going really well and she was expecting to have another good season in the summer and lower her personal best times.

Following her injury, Lois was told by her physiotherapist that she would have to miss the entire athletics season. Lois experienced several negative psychological reactions. She also didn’t want to hear her friends talking about training sessions or watch them train and compete.

Case study: Travis’s reaction to his sport injury

As someone who goes to the gym every day and enjoys the buzz he gets from doing so, Travis is struggling with being told he can’t exercise in the way he wants to for the next few weeks. He normally uses his trips to the gym as a way to de-stress and unwind, but that has been taken away from him temporarily and he doesn’t like it.

Travis is desperate to get back to his normal gym routine and just wants his shoulder injury to get better as soon as possible. He thinks it is unfair that he has sustained the injury, particularly when he sees other people exercising. He also worries about how strong he will be when he returns to the gym and whether the injury will come back.

Activity 2 Analysing the case study experiences

Timing: Allow about 20 minutes
  1. Make a list of some of the feelings you think Lois and Travis might have experienced in response to their injuries. Think about the feelings they may have had immediately after injury as well as after having been injured for several weeks or months.
  2. Make a list of the factors that might affect how someone such as Lois or Travis feels in response to the timing of an injury.
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Discussion

  1. How someone responds to an injury is likely to be personal and affected by a range of different factors. However, as you have seen, common reactions include anger, frustration, anxiety, low self-confidence, low self-esteem and loneliness, and it seems that Lois and Travis are both experiencing some of these. Additionally, they both seem to have feelings of jealously towards those around them. Travis is also demonstrating a fear of reinjury which is relatively common.
  2. An individual’s response to being injured may be affected by several factors, such as:
    • the timing of the injury e.g. in relation to the competitive year, the athlete’s career or an important competition. For an example, an injury in the off-season may be perceived to be less of a problem than an injury in the competitive season
    • the individual’s previous experiences. An individual may have experienced a similar injury and recovered quickly
    • the perceived severity of the injury. An individual will be less concerned about an injury if they don’t consider it to be particularly serious
    • the reaction of other people to the injury. The individual’s reaction may be guided by significant others, such as the coach, instructor or physiotherapist
    • athletic identity. An athlete who has a strong athletic identity is more likely to experience negative reactions than someone low in athletic identity.

Now that you have identified some of the psychological responses to injury that might occur, next you’ll move on to explore some models used to explain responses to injury.