chapter  3
17 Pages

Psychological responses to injury: a review and critique of existing models

ByNatalie Walker, Caroline Heaney

Anyone who has ever experienced a sport injury, whether it be an athlete who has sustained an injury, a coach of an injured athlete or sport medicine professional treating an injured athlete, will be aware that the occurrence of an injury can have both a physical and psychological effect on the athlete. In addition to the physical effects, sport injury may, for example, lead to feelings of frustration, anxiety, depression, anger or isolation ( Johnston and Carroll, 1998). Consideration of the psychological responses to injury is important as they can potentially impact on the athlete’s rehabilitation behaviour, the overall rehabilitation outcomes and the subsequent return to training and competition (De Heredia, Munoz and Artaza, 2004). Therefore, understanding the process in which athletes psychologically respond to injuries is of importance. According to Walker,Thatcher and Lavallee (2007), sport medicine professionals should be aware of psychological factors impacting on the injury experience if complete holistic recovery is to occur. Such an understanding is vital in an applied context and can be gained through considering the underpinning psychological theory (Cranney et al., 2009;Thompson, 2000). However, it appears that sport medicine professionals rarely receive adequate training in psychological aspects of sport injuries (for example, Arvinen-Barrow, Penny, Hemmings and Corr, 2010) and these aspects are seldom taught at degree level. For example, Heaney, Green, Roston and Walker (2012) examined the current psychology provision within physiotherapy programmes in UK universities with the intention of exploring the nature and extent of psychology covered in physiotherapy programmes, the delivery and perceived importance of any psychology content and the factors influencing psychology provision. The authors found that 41 per cent of participants indicated that their psychology provision did not contain any theoretical underpinning.