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When you finish this chapter you should be able to

  • Analyze the patient’s psychological response to injury.

  • Recognize the importance of social support for the injured athlete.

  • Explain the relationship of stress and overtraining to the risk of injury.

  • Describe the role of the athletic trainer as a counselor to the injured athlete.

  • Identify the psychological factors important to rehabilitating the injured athlete.

  • Compare and contrast the psychological skills training techniques that are used to manage the psychological aspects of injury.

  • Recognize the different mental disorders and the appropriate referral and treatment techniques.


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Visit for further exercises to apply your knowledge:

  • Clinical application scenarios covering psychological response to injury, social support, relationship of stress and overtraining, athletic trainer as a counselor, psychological factors in rehabilitation, psychological skills training techniques, and mental disorders

  • Click-and-drag questions covering psychological response to injury, and the athletic trainer as a counselor

  • Multiple-choice questions covering social support, relationship of stress and overtraining, psychological factors important in rehabilitation, psychological skills training techniques, and mental disorders


Certainly, the injured or ill patient experiences physical disability. But for many individuals, the psychological consequences of injury can be as debilitating as the physical injuries.47 These psychological and sociological reactions, combined with the physical injury itself, can have an adverse impact on the injured athlete’s successful return to competition. All of those involved with the health care of an injured patient must understand how the psyche, especially feelings and emotions, enters into that individual’s reactions to injury or illness and ultimately how it affects the rehabilitation process (Figure 11–1).17,35 The athletic trainer must also be aware of the cultural factors of an injured patient that may come into play during the rehabilitative process, and must be sensitive to those concerns on the part of the patient.14


Sports participation can cause the athlete to experience either negative or positive stress.

© William E. Prentice

Each individual reacts to injury and illness in a very personal way and makes unique adaptations to these challenges.7 Some individuals view an injury or illness as devastating; others take such a setback in stride.25 Some have problems with emotional control after sustaining an injury or illness. The athletic trainer must be aware that returning an injured patient to full, all-out competition requires that individual to be completely ready psychologically as well as physically.14 Success in sports performance requires fundamental skills, such as speed, attention, concentration, stress management, and the ability to perform cognitive strategies.


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