chapter  6
15 Pages

Imagery in sport injury rehabilitation

ByMonna Arvinen-Barrow, Damien Clement, Brian Hemmings

Many athletes, coaches and sport psychology professionals appreciate the usefulness of mental imagery in enhancing sport performance (Hall, 2001). A wealth of research evidence exists in support of imagery as being one of the most popular performance-enhancement techniques in sport (for example, DeFrancesco and Burke, 1997; Hall and Rodgers, 1989; Pain, Harwood and Anderson, 2011; Weinberg and Gould, 2011). It appears that athletes of all levels frequently use imagery (for example,Arvinen-Barrow,Weigand, Hemmings and Walley, 2008) and that élite, high-level and successful athletes use significantly more imagery than their novice, lower-level and less successful counterparts (for example, ArvinenBarrow et al., 2008; Callow and Hardy, 2001; Cumming and Hall, 2002a, 2002b). It has also been found that the use of imagery goes beyond sport type classification (for example, team vs. individual, open vs. closed, and fine vs. gross skill) as athletes involved in a range of sports such as gymnastics, dance, figure and synchronised skating, field hockey, rugby and martial arts appear to use imagery extensively (for example, Arvinen-Barrow et al., 2008; Arvinen-Barrow, Weigand, Thomas, Hemmings and Walley, 2007; Hall, Rodgers and Barr, 1990; Munroe, Hall, Simms and Weinberg, 1998) and do so at different times of the season (for example, Arvinen-Barrow et al., 2008; Cumming and Hall, 2002a; Munroe et al., 1998). However, despite the documented use of imagery by athletes of different levels in a variety of sports, using imagery during sport injury rehabilitation appears to be largely underutilised (Walsh, 2005).This could be because of a lack of understanding of how imagery works in a rehabilitation setting (Arvinen-Barrow, Penny, Hemmings and Corr, 2010; Brewer, Jeffers, Petitpas and Van Raalte, 1994; Walsh, 2005;Wiese,Weiss and Yukelson, 1991) or simply an indication of athletes’ inability to transfer skills that they normally use for performance enhancement into

injury rehabilitation.This chapter discusses how imagery could be applied within sport injury rehabilitation context. More specifically, the chapter: (a) introduces existing definitions; (b) discusses the ways in which injured athletes can benefit from using imagery during rehabilitation; (c) presents the different types of imagery that might be beneficial during rehabilitation; (d) provides an overview of the existing research findings on each of the imagery types; (e) introduces the different functions of imagery; and (f) outlines the process of using imagery during rehabilitation.