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THE PSYCHOLOGY OF ATHLETIC INJURIES:Personality Factors, Coping Resources

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Sport Psychology(psy407)
VU
Lesson 44
THE PSYCHOLOGY OF ATHLETIC INJURIES
Physical factors such as overtraining, equipment failure, and poor playing conditions are believed to be the
major factors contributing to athletic injuries. Psychological factors play an important role in the incidence,
prevention, and rehabilitation of athletic injuries.
In addressing the important subject of the psychology of athletic injuries, three main sections have been
prepared. These include:
1. Psychological predictors of athletic injuries
2. Athlete response to injury and rehabilitation
3. Other considerations
Psychological Predictors of Athletic Injury
It stands to reason that if researchers can identify psychological factors associated with the occurrence of
injuries, steps can be taken to reduce the number and severity of those that do occur. Any cognitive
appraisal that leads to the stress response puts the athlete at risk for injury. Factors that impact the stress
response include personality of the athlete, history of stressors, coping resources, and potential
interventions.
Physiological/Attentional Changes
Stressful athletic situation
Cognitive Appraisals
Injury
Four others factors moderate the relationship between a potentially stressful athletic situation and an injury.
These four factors include:
1.
Personality of the athlete
2.
History of stressor
3.
Coping resources available to the athlete
4.
Interventions
Personality Factors
Personality factors include hardiness, locus of control, sense of coherence, competitive trait anxiety, and
intrinsic motivation.
History of Stressor
Factors incorporated under the category of history of stressors include stressful life events, daily hassles,
and previous injuries.
a. Life stress and daily hassles
Relationship between stressful life events and increased illness is extended to the athletic domain. The more
life stress the athlete experiences, the greater is the incidence and severity of athletic injury.
b. Previous Injury
Athletes who are worried about the recurrence of an injury, or about whether or not they have fully
recovered from a previous injury, are vulnerable to further injury.
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Sport Psychology(psy407)
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Coping Resources
Coping resources available to the athlete include general coping behavior, social support, stress management
techniques, attentional strategy, and prescribed or self-prescribed medication.
Coping Behavior
Any behavior that assists an individual in dealing with a stressful situation is considered to be a coping
behavior.
Social Support
Social support is one of the important coping resources available to athlete to reduce the debilitating effect
of the stress response. Individuals and groups that provide social support for the athlete include parents,
friends, coach, teammates, fraternity/sorority, clubs, and religious groups.
Stress Management Techniques
Many athletes utilize stress management and cognitive intervention techniques as coping strategies for
controlling the stress response. Research has demonstrated that effective education in the stress response is
associated with a reduction in the number and severity of injuries sustained by athletes.
Attentional Strategy
A coping resource available to distance runners is attentional strategy. Research shows that the dissociative
strategy of running is associated with less incidence of injury.
Medication
Many drugs have the ability to influence the stress response, and thus the probability of injury. All these
psychological effects have the potential to reduce the coping resources of the athlete.
Interventions
One set of intervention seeks to change the cognitive appraisal of potentially stressful events, while the
second seeks to modify the physiological/attentional aspects of the stress response. Cognitive appraisal
might be changed by rethinking how one plan to address a particularly stressful situation.
Psychological/attentional aspects might be modified through progressive realization and imagery.
Psychological Response to Injury and Rehabilitation
Factors associated with an athlete's psychological response to injury and follow-up rehabilitation occurs
after the injury has occurred. It is composed of cognitive appraisal, emotional response, and behavioral
response.
Cognitive and Emotional Response to Injury
The psychological response to injury includes both cognitive appraisal and emotional response.
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Sport Psychology(psy407)
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Cognitive Appraisal
Cognitive appraisal helps determine the athlete's emotional response to injury. Most research in cognitive
appraisal has focused upon the athlete's perception of self-esteem and self-worth following a serious sport
injury.
Emotional Response
Emotional responses include:
a.
Fear of the unknown
b.
Feelings of tension, anger, and depression
c.
Frustration and boredom associated with being injured
d.
Negative attitude
e.
Grief associated with an injury
f.
Emotional coping skills
Behavioral Response to Injury
The third factor leading to injury recovery, and associated with cognitive and emotional response, is the
behavioral response of the athlete to injury. The primary focus of research in the area of behavioral
response to injury has been upon adherence to injury rehabilitation, coping and intervention, and pain
management.
Adherence to Injury Rehabilitation
In order for an injury rehabilitation program to be successful, it is believed that the athlete must adhere to
the program. Thus, adherence to sport injury rehabilitation programs has emerged as a very important area
of study. Predictors of injury rehabilitation adherence are personal factors and situational factors. Personal
factors related to adherence include pain tolerance, tough-mindedness (e.g., self-assurance, assertiveness,
independence), and goal perspective.
Situational factors most closely related to adherence include:
a) Belief in the efficacy of treatment procedures
b) Comfort of the rehabilitation clinical environment
c) Convenience of rehabilitation program scheduling
Coping and Intervention
Coping skills possessed by the athlete, and cognitive-behavioral interventions (applied by others or the
athlete) are effective in enhancing adherence to injury rehabilitation programs
Pain Management
Pain tolerance is a personality characteristic. Individuals with a low tolerance to pain may have a more
difficult time going through the stages of the sport injury recovery process. Performance pain can be
differentiated from injury pain. Performance pain is controlled by the athlete and is associated with
improved performance and a sense of accomplishment.
Conversely, injury pain is not controlled by the athlete and may be of either the acute or the chronic variety.
Acute pain is due to a trauma to the body and is intense and short in duration. Conversely, chronic pain is
long lasting, is uncomfortable, continues long after the initial injury, and is very complex in its origin. Pain
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Sport Psychology(psy407)
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can also be categorized as benign or harmful. Benign pain is generally short in duration and is not associated
with swelling and soreness. Conversely, harmful pain is present before and after exertion and is associated
with swelling, tenderness, and prolonged soreness.
Pain associated with an athletic injury is managed through a combination of pharmacological (prescription
drug) and nonpharmacological approaches. Pharmacological pain management strategies are often needed
short term. Nonpharmacological pain management strategies are classified as being of the pain-reduction or
the pain-focusing variety.
Other Considerations
Rehabilitation Personnel with Psychological Expertise
There are two basic approaches to providing sport injury rehabilitation: the distributed approach and the
specialist approach. In the distributed approach, is to make sure that all concerned receive training in sport
psychology applications. The specialist approach is to employ a fulltime sport psychologist. In the specialist
approach, the sport psychologist works with injured athletes requiring psychological services.
Benefits Associated with Sustaining and Recovering from an Athletic Injury
While it is generally assumed that nothing good comes from an athletic injury, this may not be entirely true.
Evidence suggests that successful recovery from an athletic injury is associated with several benefits:
Personal growth
Psychologically based performance enhancement
Increase in self-efficacy, mental toughness, and personal motivation
Physical and technical development benefits associated with injury/recovery experience
General health improvement
References
Cox, H. Richard. (2002). Sport Psychology: Concepts and Applications. (Fifth Edition). New York:
McGraw-Hill Companies
Lavallec. D., Kremer, J., Moran, A., & Williams. M. (2004) Sports Psychology: Contemporary Themes. New
York: Palgrave Macmillan Publishers
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Table of Contents:
  1. SPORT PSYCHOLOGY DEFINED:Issue of Certification, The Research Sport Psychologist
  2. SELF-CONFIDENCE AND SPORT PSYCHOLOGY:Successful Performance, Verbal persuasion
  3. SELECTING SELF-TALK STATEMENTS:Skill accusation, Controlling effort
  4. GOAL ORIENTATION:Goal Involvement, Motivational Climate
  5. CAUSAL ATTRIBUTION IN SPORT:Fritz Heiderís Contribution, Other Considerations
  6. CAUSAL ATTRIBUTIONS IN COMPETITIVE SITUATIONS:Locus of Causality
  7. MOTIVATION IN SPORT:Social Factors, Success and Failure, Coachesí Behavior
  8. FLOW: THE PSYCHOLOGY OF OPTIMAL EXPERIENCE, Goal Setting in Sport
  9. PRINCIPLES OF EFFECTIVE GOAL SETTING:Clearly identify time constraints
  10. A TEAM APPROACH TO SETTING GOALS:The Planning Phase, The Meeting Phase
  11. YOUTH SPORT:Distress and anxiety, Coach-Parent Relationships
  12. ATTENTION AND CONCENTRATION IN SPORT:Information Processing, Memory Systems
  13. ATTENTION AND CONCENTRATION IN SPORT:Measuring Attentional Focus
  14. PERSONALITY AND THE ATHLETE:Personality Defined, Psychodynamic Theory
  15. THE MEASUREMENT OF PERSONALITY:Projective Procedures, Structured Questionnaire
  16. PERSONALITY AND THE ATHLETE:Athletic Motivation Inventory, Personality Sport Type
  17. SITUATIONAL FACTORS RELATED TO ANXIETY AND MOOD:Type of Sport
  18. ANXIETY, AROUSAL, AND STRESS RELATIONSHIPS:Emotion and Mood
  19. ANXIETY, AROUSAL, AND STRESS RELATIONSHIPS:The Inverted-U Theory
  20. ALTERNATIVES TO INVERTED-U THEORY:Apterís Reversal Theory
  21. COPING STRATEGIES IN SPORT:Measurement of Coping Skill
  22. RELAXATION STRATEGIES FOR SPORT:Progressive Relaxation, Autogenic Training
  23. AROUSAL ENERGIZING STRATEGIES:Team Energizing Strategies, Fan Support
  24. AROUSAL ENERGIZING STRATEGIES:Precompetition Workout, Individual Goal Setting
  25. IMAGERY:Skill Level of the Athletes, Time Factors and Mental Practice
  26. IMAGERY:Symbolic Learning Theory, Imagery Perspective. Sensory Mode
  27. IMAGERY:Paivioís Two-Dimensional Model, Developing Imagery Skills
  28. THE ROLE OF HYPNOSIS IN SPORT:Defining Hypnosis, Social-Cognitive Theory
  29. THE ROLE OF HYPNOSIS IN SPORT:Achieving the Hypnotic Trance, Hypnotic Phase
  30. PSYCHOLOGICAL SKILLS TRAINING:Psychological Skills Training Program
  31. PSYCHOLOGICAL SKILLS TRAINING:Performance profiling, Performance routines
  32. ETHICS IN SPORT PSYCHOLOGY:Competence, Integrity, Social Responsibility
  33. AGGRESSION AND VIOLENCE IN SPORT:Defining Aggression, Catharsis hypothesis
  34. AGGRESSION AND VIOLENCE IN SPORT:The Catharsis Effect, Fan Violence
  35. AUDIENCE AND CROWD EFFECTS IN SPORTS:Social Facilitation, Crowd Hostility
  36. TEAM COHESION IN SPORT:Measurement of Team Cohesion
  37. TEAM COHESION IN SPORT:Predicting Future Participation, Team Building
  38. LEADERSHIP IN SPORT:Fiedlerís Contingency Theory, Coach-Athlete Compatibility
  39. EXERCISE PSYCHOLOGY:Special Populations, Clinical Patients
  40. EXERCISE PSYCHOLOGY:Social Interaction Hypothesis, Amine Hypothesis
  41. EXERCISE PSYCHOLOGY:The Theory of Planned Behavior, Social Cognitive Theory
  42. EXERCISE PSYCHOLOGY:Exercise Addiction, Bulimia Nervosa, Muscle Dysmorphia
  43. BURNOUT IN ATHLETES:Overtraining and Overreaching, Recommended Intervention
  44. THE PSYCHOLOGY OF ATHLETIC INJURIES:Personality Factors, Coping Resources
  45. DRUG ABUSE IN SPORT AND EXERCISE:Stimulants, Depressants