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The Experiences of Athletes Rehabilitating From Season Ending Injuries and Their Perceived Value of Psychological Interventions: Three Case Studies

By Trevor A Hale


Research has shown that athletes who sustain injury often experience negative emotions such as anger, anxiety, and depressed mood, and that a negative psychological state can have a detrimental effect on injury rehabilitation and return to sport. For the most part, researchers have focused on athletes who have experienced short to moderate term injuries. Few have addressed long-term injury rehabilitation (LTIR). This thesis focuses on athletes who had experienced season ending injuries. Each athlete (3) was interviewed (four times) and invited to participate in psychological interventions (e.g., psycho-educational and cognitive behavioural) throughout LTIR lasting at least nine months. Athletes’ experiences are reported as long, narrative case studies. While the case studies explore four broad themes (affect, coping, social support, and psychological interventions) the overall narratives articulate the coherence and discord among athletes’ LTIR experiences (e.g., the positive and negative consequences of social support, life stress, pain, affect; the value of psychological interventions; the therapeutic aspect of ‘just’ talking to someone; etc.). The intimate issues identified and lived by each participant are examined and discussed in relation to the pre-existing athletic injury literature. Complex and dynamic relationships among the variables (e.g., emotional and behavioural responses, social factors, and physiological aspects) proposed in integrated models of injury rehabilitation (e.g., biopsychosocial) emerged in these narratives. These integrated models outline the dynamic and interrelated responses athletes have in response to injury and are the maps that practitioners treating these athletes may use. The athletes’ stories presented here, therefore, express some of the common ground injured athletes travel and are also rich and full of unique personal experiences. In both senses, though, they depict the actual, dynamic, rough, and often lonely process of LTIR—they are the real-life territory that those maps only partially describe

Topics: 380000 Behavioural and Cognitive Sciences, School of Social Sciences and Psychology, athletes, injury rehabilitation, psychological interventions, case studies
Year: 2008
OAI identifier:

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