Psychosocial Responses during Different Phase of Sport Injury Rehabilitation: A Qualitative Study

Damien Clement, West Virginia University, USA
Monna Arvinen-Barrow, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, USA

Theme: Injury/trauma/rehabilitation

Poster Number: 120

Program ID: POS-2

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

Room: Napoleon


Athletic trainers (ATs) have traditionally conceptualized rehabilitation programs in terms of three distinct physiological phases; however these phases appear to neglect athletes’ psychosocial responses to their injuries. To incorporate a psychosocial component into rehabilitation, Kamphoff et al. (2013), suggested that ATs should consider utilizing the following three phases as a framework for injury rehabilitation: reaction to injury, reaction to rehabilitation, and reaction to return to sport. The purpose of the present study was to document injured athletes’ psychosocial responses during the different phases of injury rehabilitation. Semi-structured interviews with eight (N = 8) Division II athletes were conducted. Results revealed that athletes’ psychosocial responses to injuries were cyclical in nature, and that they were influenced by the different phases of injury rehabilitation. Initially, athletes’ cognitive appraisals (CA) were predominately negative in nature, leading to negative emotions. These appraisals changed following diagnosis, and when moving to reaction to rehabilitation phase, and reaction to sport phase. In reaction to rehabilitation, athletes reported mixed CA and identified frustration as the main emotional response. When returning to sport, athletes reflected on the lessons learned yet at the same time expressed some doubts related to their ability to return to play. These CA served as a precursor to the resulting emotional responses of nervousness and re-injury anxiety as well as excitement. Throughout the various phases of rehabilitation, athletes reported seeking out social support; initially from significant others, and later during the reaction to rehabilitation phase, from their ATs. The results appear to support the utilization of the integrated model of psychological response to sport injury and rehabilitation process and the three phases of rehabilitation as a framework for understanding how physical and psychosocial factors may interact during sport injury rehabilitation. Understanding this interaction can help ATs provide better care to their injured athletes.

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