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Psychological Effects Of Long

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The Psychological Effects of an Injury

With every injury it is important to remember that the athlete will be affected mentally. Not all athletes will act identically to the same injury. Although research shows there are factors that are commonly seen among athletes going through adjustment to injury and rehabilitation. There are three reactive phases of the injury and rehab process. They are reaction to injury, reaction to rehabilitation, and reaction to return to competition or career termination. The reactions fall into four time frames: short term, long term, chronic, and termination.
In the scenario the athlete was diagnosed with a second degree ankle sprain. This would fall under the category of a long term injury. A long term injury is one where the rehabilitation time is longer than four weeks and may take up to a year. Some other examples of injuries in this category would be fractures, orthopedic and general surgeries, second and third degree sprain and strains, and debilitating injuries.
In the reaction to the injury itself, there is a primary reaction followed by a secondary reaction. With this ankle sprain, a common primary reaction is that of fear. This athlete can be afraid of many things ranging from them never getting better to never getting to play again to being afraid of the unknown. In order to conquer this fear the athletic trainer needs to help reassure the athlete about their injury. This can be done by presenting the truth about the injury and rehab process in a manner they can understand and gaining the athlete’s trust in the athletic trainer.
A common secondary reaction is anger. During this time the athlete may have an angry or hostile attitude and the person around the athlete at the time often takes the force of the anger. It is usually just a release for the athlete not a personal attack on the trainer.
This athlete will also have reactions to their rehabilitation. Loss of vigor and irrational thoughts are the primary reactions to long term rehab. The thing the trainer needs to be aware of at this point in time is that the loss of vigor can be masked as depression. The athlete experiencing loss of vigor will not have the same spirit as they usually do, but they will not have the common signs and symptoms of true depression. The athlete needs to understand that these feelings are normal as long as there are no signs of clinical depression.
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