The Expanding Role of the Sport Psychology Professional in Sport-related Concussion: Performance and Clinical Issues

Adam ONeil, Pinnacle Performance Center, USA

Theme: Injury/trauma/rehabilitation

Program ID: SYM-18

Presentation: October 4, 2013 11:30 am - 12:30 pm

Room: Oak Alley


The purpose of this presentation is to explore performance-related and clinical issues affecting athletes following concussion including return to play, mood, coping/social support, and conversion disorders. We will also describe interdisciplinary approaches to manage these issues. The acute, direct effects of sport-related concussion involve a constellation of behavioral, physical, and psychological symptoms and deficits (Herring et al., 2010). The concussed athlete must also manage the removal from important social settings (i.e., sport, school, etc.), pressures to return to sport, and the financial burden incurred for lost time and treatment expenses, among other psychosocial issues (Podlog & Ecklund, 2004). Over the course of recovery, both performance (e.g., fear of re-injury, lack of motivation, navigating non-normative transitions) and clinical issues (e.g., depression, anxiety, conversion disorders) can develop and persist (Echemendia, 2012). It is therefore important for sport psychology professionals to employ a systematic, interdisciplinary approach when working with concussed athletes (Gagnon et al., 2009). We will discuss interventions including mindfulness (Al Sayegh et al., 2009), social support (McCauley et al., 2001), education (Tator, 2012), exercise (Baker et al., 2012), goal setting (e.g., Gilbourne & Taylor, 1998), cognitive (Marcantuono & Prigatano, 2008), vestibular (Alsalaheen et al., 2010), and visual therapies (Suter et al., 2011) designed to expedite and ease the transition back into sport and academic settings. In addition, qualified sport psychology professionals are in a position to address the less common clinical issues (e.g., anxiety/PTSD, depression, conversion disorders) that affect some athletes following sport-related concussion. To that end, we will discuss a case study of an athlete who developed a conversion disorder following injury to illustrate an interdisciplinary approach to the clinical side of concussion.

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