Psychological Intervention of Injury in Sport

January 20, 2018

 Psychological intervention can oftentimes be overlooked in the world of sport. During the process of an athletic recovery, a team of sports medicine professionals work closely together to quickly rehabilitate the athlete back to play. Through the past eight years or so, psychological intervention studies have improved; whereas before, there were very few studies that distinguished “the role of psychological-based interventions in the prevention of injury” in sport (Pargman, 2007, p. 29). To understand the core mechanisms that intervene in one’s psychological mindset, major factors that are in relationship with the stress response must be distinguished. For sport programs and schools that do not utilize a sport psychologist, this process can be overlooked, therefore resulting in re-occuring and over-used injury.

Stressors

Major life events do have a negative impact on athletic performance. Everyday stressors may be physical or psychological impact, and both can foist a negative outcome in the preceding season of sport. Everyday stressors range in a wide variety of effects, and inflict a different response from one person to another. Although it has been mentioned that athletes impose more stress than the non-athlete, the truth between this statement varies based on the physical and psychological demands that one undergoes. Life events such as death, illness, and financial debts; everyday issues such as traffic, work, and unexpected events are among the few stressors that may intervene with an athletes ability to perform at one’s best (Hebert, 2007).

Identify the Variables of Stressors

Personality, history of stressors, and coping mechanisms are factors that may affect the stress response of an athlete. The extent to which these variables are absent or present among each athlete, will indicate the severity of each factor. The indication of athletes that have little to no coping mechanisms and specific personality dispositions (high anxiety) will demonstrate a greater stress response when placed in stressful situations; which in turn are more likely to be at risk of injury (from muscle tension and disruption in attentional processes) (Pargman, 2007). Collecting these variables are part of the process of identifying proper interventions to reduce injury.

Throughout the process of stress three variables are identified: intervention, stimulus, and response (Fullerton, n.d.). Intervention tools that may be used during a psychological based injury prevention are: Cognitive and biofeedback techniques, relaxation imagery and counseling, attentional strategies, stress management, cognitive behavioral stress management, and psychological skills training (Pargman, 2007).  

Various Intervention Tools Performed to Reduce Injury In Sport Performance

As mentioned, very few studies have been examined, but are quickly on the rise today. With improved research and interest of psychology in sport, more intervention tools are being utilized and tests are being implemented within different sport segments. A number of techniques were delivered in 1989 to individuals, pairs, and groups of US alpine skiers. Techniques were “attention control, imagery, and other mental skills” and were associated with a reduction of injury, increased self control, and improved self-confidence (Pargman, 2007, p. 29). In contrast, the use of audio tapes of attentional strategies were used to help mold and shape the associative thought process among 10 marathon runners (1990). Test results were positive as athletes demonstrated optimized training intensity and reduced injury. Relaxation tools, cognitive and biofeedback techniques (control of blood pressure, heart rate, and muscle tension) are also among the several tools that have been used in various studies performed, all with positive outcomes.

Implications

Applying tools such as relaxation, biofeedback, and imagery techniques are among the few strategies used with athletes to help reduce anxiety and assist in rehabilitation throughout sport competition. These interventions are great tools that can also be used outside of sport. These stress management techniques may not work for every athlete with the same sport injury, but practice and executing these techniques may help athletes reduce the risk of and work through rehabilitation of injury in sport.  

 

References

Hebert, D. (2007, December 16). Stress and the athlete. 

Fullerton, C.M. (n.d.). Stress and anxiety in athletes.

Pargman, D., (Ed.) (2007). Psychological bases of sport injuries (3rd ed.).  Morgantown, WV: Fitness Information Technology..

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