Numero: 101. Año: 5

Lugar de Edición: Barcelona, España

ISSN 2696-5151

Techniques of pychological support after injury in sports and during physical rehabilitation of athletes

por Lic. Andrea Stojanovic (Master Psychologist, Sports Psychologist, Health Associate Psychologist certified by the Ministry of Health in Serbia)
Athlete injuries trigger psychological challenges with stages of denial, anger, depression, and acceptance. Early involvement of a psychologist accelerates recovery. Stress management techniques, goal setting, and a supportive team aid in rehabilitation. The process involves keeping an injury recovery diary, distraction, relaxation, and approved physical activity. With proper support, athletes navigate the rehabilitation process more easily, and the possibility of sports injuries can be reduced.
What state is the mind in when the body is in pain?

Injuries are an integral part of every athlete’s life. Every physical injury leads to a psychological reaction, which depends on how quickly recovery will tak place, that’s why injuries can be classified as a traumatic experience that leads to consequences on the physical and mental level.

Due to the excessive desire for results and success, many athletes go beyond their capabilities, ignore the advice of the expert team, and lose focus and concentration because they get out of the present moment, whick further leads to injury. An injured athlete goes through several psychological stages:

-The first phase is the denial phase in which the athlete convinces himself and others that he is fine, tries to continue playing, or denies the seriousness of the injury.

-The second phase is the anger phase, where the athlete blames himself, others, or the circumtances that caused the injury.

-The third stage is the stage of depression where there is listlessness, apathy, loss of will for any activities, change in the sleep cycle, and change in appetite.

-The last phase is the acceptance phase, in this phase he finally accepts the real situation and tries to make a plan for recovery and return to the field.

The key to a good recovery is for the athlete to reach the last stage, the acceptance stage, as soon as possible. Of great importance in the process of recovery from an injury is the role of the psychologist who will provide support to the injured athlete.

Recovery will be fast and more effective if the psychologist is involved in the process of recovery from injury from the beginning, thus reducting the possibility of staying in the stages of negation and anger that slow down recovery.

The recovery period from an injury is individual and depends on many factors. It is very important that you are in the hands of a profesional who will ease your period of acute stress and lead you to your goal.

Athletes in the process of physical therapy encounter intense or chronic pain, and mobility is often disabled or limited. In these situations, athletes are exposed to acute stress. For this reason, it is essential to develop stress management techniques so that the athlete can adapt to the injury and go through the rehabilitation process more easily.

During the process of physical therapy, the psychological experiences of athletes differ, because no one experiences an injury in the same way in addition to fear, anger, and doubt, there are feeling of helplessness, lack of motivation, and a changed body image. All these psychological aspects affect the course and success of physical therapy, thus the overall recovery. It is important to register these psychological difficulties in time and eliminate them with the help of a sports psychologist. During the process of recovery from injury and during phisical therapy, in addition to the loss of self-confidence, athletes often feel a loss of control over their bodies and life. This greatly complicates recovery and increases the feeling of helpplessness. The cooperation of the entire team that participates in the recovery is of great importance, including sports psychologists, physiotherapists, coaches, doctors, but also family members.

The techniques that the sports psychologist applies in this phase of recovery from injury during physical therapy are:

-Setting goals (measurable and realistic).

-Reviewing behavior and negative attitudes (negative prognosis, neglecting positive aspects of recovery).

-Keeping an injury recovery diary. It is recommended to write down the course of recovery every day; to what extent the athlete feels pain, its frequency and intensity his mood during the day, the level of physical activity, and the amount of social support.

-Distraction – this technique has a significant impact on reducing the experience of pain.

Relaxation, breathing exercises, instructions to count, and listening to music are recommended.

-Imagination (This exercise is very important and effective). There are several types, such as pain control imagery (pain management), tissue healing (healing imagery), rehabilitation process imagery, and performance imagery.

-Psysical activity means any type of physical activity that is possible at that moment and approved by a physitherapist or other professional.

Athletes in the rehabilitation period are scared and discouraged because they are afraid of pain, they are not motivated and they are afraid of returning to the field due to the possibility of new injuries or the activation of olf ones. The support of the entire team, physiotherapist, coach, sports psychologist, doctor, family, and close friends is of great help so thay the athlete can go through the entire rehabilitation process more easily.

Can the possibility of sports injuries be reduced? The answer is mostly yes.

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