I. Introduction

When athletes are physically injured, their body is not the only part of themselves that is affected. Their psychological confidence shakes within their body and athletes lose confidence in their ability to perform at a high level. Some athletes, such as Derrick Rose, are cleared for physical play and are expected to perform with the same level of greatness as before their injury. However, their mind is not prepared for the stress that comes with playing a professional, collegiate, or even recreational sport. Their physical injury has paralyzed the mind to believe they are incapable of performing. The mind also has the ability to create fear of further injuries. An athlete must be able to trust their body to make rapid, precise, and powerful movements. After an injury, that trust is broken. Injured athletes need to receive care and treatment for not only their physical needs but their psychological needs as well. This topic relates to psychology because the practices needed to help athletes recover from an injury involves brain functions that help an athlete respond and cope with their injury. Coe college students should be aware of these problems because many of them are athletes themselves. Almost every athlete has dealt with some sort of injury and had to find ways to cope with their injury. This wiki will help college athletes, and students too, discover ways they can treat themselves and have the quickest and most efficient recovery as possible.

II. Psychological Effects of an Injury

Being an athlete at any level is extremely difficult. They devote a vast majority of their time, effort, and focus to developing a certain set of skills to accomplish many challenging goals. When an athlete injures their body, however, an athlete can feel like they are almost losing a part of themself. Being a major part of a sport or team gives an athlete a sense of self. The sport defines who they are as a person. When an athlete loses that sport because of an injury, they lose their identity, a great amount of self-esteem, and fail to use athletics as their “escape” from stress (Goldberg, 2013). An athlete has put in so much time and effort into the activity that once it is taken away, they no longer know what to do with themselves. Athletes can feel lost, afraid, and even traumatized after an injury. A recent study shows that athletes who suffered an injury had about the same traumatization levels as students in California that experienced a 7.1 level earthquake (Shuer, 1997). If athletes are traumatized to the same degree as students who experienced an earthquake then it is extremely comprehensible why many are so afraid to come back and play. The fear of future injuries and inability to meet expectations is too great for many to overcome which causes excess stress and confusion for many athletes. These great amounts of stress and confusions can contribute to many different factors that ultimately lead to depression. In a recent study, a researcher surveyed 343 male college athletes from a variety of sports and found that 51 percent had some symptoms of depression after being injured, and 12 percent became moderately to severely depressed (Tarken, 2000. This study shows the severity of the negative mental effects of a physical injury. Depression can lead to severe consequences such as lack of motivation, distant nature, or even suicide. Athletes suffering from major signs of depression after an injury need to seek help immediately from loved ones that can help them cope with the stress and difficulties of an injury before it is too late.


III. Derrick Rose

Professional athletes receive amplified stress and pressure to perform at the highest level due to the vast media coverage and pressure from their teammates and coaches. Many athletes welcome this pressure and believe it fuels their drive to make their game better and perform at a much higher level. However, when an athlete injures their body, that pressure can be amplified in a variety of negative ways. The media becomes extremely critical of the athlete’s ability to perform and stay healthy. Furthermore, the media’s criticism is augmented when an athlete continues to postpone their “return.” On April 28, 2012, Derrick Rose tore his ACL in the Bulls first playoff game (Isaacson, 2012). The injury was very detrimental to the team’s playoff run and their play suffered a great amount due to the star’s missing ability. Many people in the United States saw how hard Rose had worked to achieve his goals and felt some of his pain with the injury. However, the star promised “The Return” of his abilities to the court and believed that he would make a quick recovery with his skills improved even more throughout the offseason. However, Rose’s “Return” seemed to be prolonged more and more for reasons many people do not quite understand. Derrick Rose took off the entire 2012-2013 season and did not make his “Return” until the start of the 2013-2014 season – which was about an eighteen-month recovery period that was only supposed to last only eight months (Duffy, 2013). This angered many NBA fans and caused them to lose faith in Rose and the Bulls, which brought hatred towards Rose. The media began to mock Rose for not returning as soon as he predicted and complained about his refusal to “return” (Sonny, 2013). Although Rose received a great amount of criticism and disapproval, he most likely made the right choice. If he was not fully confident in his ability to perform and avoid injury then he made the right choice to keep recovering and improving his abilities. A recent study shows that up to two-thirds of athletes may not return to their pre-injury level by 12 months after ACL reconstruction surgery, despite being physically recovered (Adern, Whitehead, Taylor, & Feller, 2011). As with the case of Derrick Rose, athletes do not feel their body has fully recovered after one whole year. Derrick made the decision to let his body have more time to heal and become stronger. Sometimes, an athlete can push a return too soon, which can cause the injury to become even more severe and detrimental to the athletes
health. Nevertheless, some athletes are extremely prone to injury and it is depressing to
discover that Derrick tore his meniscus on 22 November 2013 (Zillget, 2013).

Derrick Rose being carried off the court after his injury (Ameck, 2012).
Image mocking Derrick Rose's "Return" (Sonny, 2013)

IV. Adrian Peterson

While some athletes have numerous issues recovering from injuries, some thrive on them. A select few athletes are able to use an injury as motivation to make a return with their abilities increased to an insurmountable level. This is the case with Adrian Peterson. Just nine months after tearing his ACL and MCL Adrian Peterson rushed for 2,097 yards and 12 touchdowns – 9 yards shy of the NFL record – and received the NFL MVP and the Offensive Player of the Year for the 2012-2013 season (“Adrian Peterson: Year in Review”). Adrian is an extremely motivated athlete and saw his injury as an opportunity instead of an obstacle. He saw the opportunity to take advantage of the extra-long offseason to not only heal the torn ligaments, but also strengthen other ligaments in his body and improve his overall performance. His inconceivably amazing season is first-hand evidence of how his hard work and determination paid off. Peterson’s “attacking” mindset and positive expectancy of his body’s response resulted in an efficient and speedy recover that contributed to his astonishing season (Isaacson, 2012).

AP injury.jpg
Adrian Peterson being carried off after tearing his ACL and MCL (Kay, 2011).
Adrian Peterson receiving his NFL MVP award (KOCO.com, 2013).

V. Seeking Help

Athletes that are having issues returning to a sport after an injury need to seek assistance and support from others around them. This will ultimately help their recovery period and motivate them to “bounce back” from their injury. The SCRAPE method is a new technique used to help athletes psychologically recover from an injury. The SCRAPE approach involves Social Support, Confidence and Competence, Refer, Accommodate, Psychological Skills, and Educate (Hinderliter & Cardinal, 2007). An athlete needs support from their family, friends, and members of the community to show that even though they might be injured, they are still a role model and an essential part of people’s lives. Athletes need to build confidence in their abilities and be competent about taking care of their body. Motivation and confidence is key to recovery because many athletes experience fear when returning to a sport (Adern, Taylor, Feller, & Webster, 2013). They need to be able to refer to doctors and friends about any problems they are dealing with so they are able to cope with the stress of dealing with an injury. It is essential that athlete’s friends and community accommodate and accept the athlete during their rehabilitation to give them the motivation to continue to pursue their goals. Athletes need to receive psychological skills and methods to manage outside stressors. These methods might include setting short-term goals, being patient, or maintaining a positive attitude, not matter what (Goldberg, 2013). The longer the injury recovery period, the more stress an athlete receives (Heredia, Ramirez, & Artaza, 2004). Smaller individual goals can preoccupy an athlete’s mind and causes them to forget about the obstacles and long-term stress that could develop from being injured. Athletes feel they are still able to serve a purpose in the world and are inspired to keep working towards accomplishing their goals. An athlete must also become educated not only about their body, but in other areas that involve sports. Many times an athlete is a one-sport, one mindset type of individual, where all they put all their time and effort into developing their skills in just one sport (Goldberg, 2013). To avoid this, athletes – who are not recovering from an injury, yet – need to be serious about their classroom studies, active in their community, and participate in activities outside of sports. Overall, this will make the athlete a better student, person, and friend to others. If an injury does occur with an athlete that is active in their community and works hard on their schoolwork, then the athlete has the opportunity to focus on issues other than just their rehab. Consequently, the athlete’s recovery period will decrease, with their skill level improved to a much higher degree.

VI. Conclusion

Athletes around the world experience a variety of different injuries. The injury not only affects their body, but their mind too. Outside stressors bombard an athlete on a daily basis. Those stressors are amplified when the athlete is recovering from an injury. The amount of stress can be almost too overwhelming for some. In spite of this great amount of stress, athletes can still overcome their injury and accomplish even great feats than before their injury – as with the case of Adrian Peterson. With help from their family, friends, teammates, and community, an athlete can realize that they still serve an important purpose in the world. Injuries can be devastating to those who commit all their time to a sport. On the other hand, if they are a well-rounded person, they will have outlets to relieve their stress outside of sports. Sports are important to many individuals around the world; however, it should not be the sole focus of one’s life.

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