Psychological Responses Following Sport Injury: Case Studies

Leilani Madrigal, University of North Carolina at Greensboro, USA

Theme: Injury/trauma/rehabilitation

Poster Number: 117

Program ID: POS-2

Presentation: October 4, 2013 5:30 pm - 7:00 pm

Room: Napoleon


Personality, social, and emotional factors all influence an individual’s behavior following an injury. This study examined changes in athletes’ psychological strengths (mental toughness, hardiness, and optimism), emotional response to sport injury, rehabilitation demands, and coping behavior throughout recovery. Four Division I athletes completed questionnaires that assessed mental toughness, hardiness, optimism, sport confidence, athletic identity, and stress prior to their season (time 1), after injury (time 2), midway through rehabilitation (time 3), and when cleared to participate (time 4). Coping behavior, psychological response to sport injury, and rehabilitation adherence were assessed during recovery. Interviews were conducted once athletes were cleared to play. Case 1 (ACL injury prior to the season) demonstrated positive changes (maintained mental toughness and athletic identity, low stress, higher hardiness and optimism) but also reported feeling isolated, and worried about coming back from injury. Case 1 used more problem and emotion focused coping as recovery progressed. Case 2 (microfracture on femur condyle) reported changes with higher mental toughness, lower hardiness, lower sport confidence, lower athletic identity, and more use of avoidant focused coping. Case 3 (broken bone in non-dominant hand) progressed through rehab at a rapid pace, and reported decreases in mental toughness, hardiness, sport confidence and athletic identity; however the biggest stressor was the interaction with the athletic training staff. Case 4 (labril tear on dominant shoulder) reported high mental toughness, sport confidence, athletic identity and problem-focused approaches to coping with the injury. The case findings reveal some common reactions, but highlight the unique characteristics and changes for each individual case, suggesting that consultants monitor and consider psychological and emotional responses and coping behaviors for each individual. The information gained by following athletes throughout their injury can help guide those working with injured athletes as recovery progresses.

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