Looking at the mental side of recovery from a sports injury

Serious injuries are not just physiological – they can be psychologically damaging too.

We take you behind the scenes this month with our timely Vancouver Games Blog, an insider perspective on sport medicine and science headlines, talking points, statistical data and emerging trends.

Ph.D. Laura M. Miele writes at podiumsportsjournal.com on how much more is now being learned and put into practice on how to best help athletes recover from the mental side of a serious sports injury. One of big factors that Miele notes is when an athlete believes that they have lost their identity through injury and how their emotional reaction to it may in fact slow their recovery:

Individuals who stake claim in their “identity as athletes” tend to be less accepting of injury.  These athletes are impacted greatly both emotionally and physically.  They may try to keep their pain to themselves.  They may neglect their support systems because their athletic identity is not consistent with those they view as needing caregiver assistance. Many of these athletes have said the period following surgery was like “being in their own personal hell”; a place where no one could possibly understand the physical and emotional work they have ahead of them to return to play.  Athletes who are injured often feel tremendous loss – and – the uncertainty of their recovery can weigh heavily in their minds. To be injured is a great set back for that individual’s hopes, plans, lifestyle, physical environment and social contacts may all be altered.  Injury triggers a wide range of emotions which progress through various stages similar to Elizabeth Kubler-Ross’s 5 stages of death.  These concerns are also experienced by former athletes, who have maintained their athleticism, if they become injured in their late 30’s or 40’s.  It seems that with any injury comes pain, and with pain comes fluctuating emotions.

Read the rest of the article here.

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