Psychological Effects of Athletic Injuries

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Introduction When an athlete sustains an injury while playing the sport that they love, it can have a debilitating effect. Depending on the injury, not only can they be forced to miss a significant amount of playing time (which can affect their livelihood) while they go through rehab, they also lose a huge piece of themselves. The physical part of an injury is only half the battle athletes have to face. Thoughts, feelings and spirit all contribute to sport performance, and are important parts of every athlete (Brehm, 2008). Injuries cause extreme pain, limit movements and depending on the severity, can require a large amount of time for rehab. The majority of regular people will have a negative response to any kind of injury. In the case of the athlete (especially at the professional or collegiate level) injuries can be devastating. There is no universal model as to what mental response an athlete will have when an injury occurs, for the most part these emotions are negative (Brehm, 2008). Even when an athlete returns from an injury they can still be affected by it and play more tentatively on the field or court because of fear of re-injury (Brehm, 2008). The psychological effects of sports injuries all depend on how the athlete copes with the injury. Epidemiological reports of sports injury confirm a high incidence of injuries occurring at all levels of sport participation, ranging in severity from cuts and bruises to spinal cord injury. The psychosocial dynamics accompanying sport injury should be known to ensure psychological recovery, an important aspect in rehabilitating the injured athlete. Earlier studies demonstrating psychological differences between athletes and non-athletes indicated the need for actual research on the athlete's post injury response in lieu of accepting the hypothesis that the emotional responses of athletes to injury parallels

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