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Psychological Impact of Injuries in Athletes


Although research on the psychological impact of injury is in its infancy, this article reviews relevant literature focusing on post-injury emotional response, self-esteem, and the effect of mood disturbance on rehabilitation from sport injury. Injury is often accompanied by depression, tension, anger and low self-esteem, particularly in competitive, seriously injured athletes. Mood disturbance seems to relate to the athlete’s perceived progress in rehabilitation and has been shown to negatively relate to attendance at rehabilitation sessions.

This article also describes how the Emotional Responses of Athletes to Injury Questionnaire (ERAIQ) serves as a guide for the initial interview of an injured athlete. Interventions such as positive self-talk, relaxation, goal setting and healing imagery, all used by a faster healing group of athletes, and although not well researched, seem appropriate to assist athletes in coping with injury. Modelling interventions during injury rehabilitation have also been shown to have a positive effect on rehabilitation and should be used. These relationships are described in more depth and in the context of a theoretical model. Directions for future research are suggested.

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Correspondence to Aynsley M. Smith.

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Smith, A.M. Psychological Impact of Injuries in Athletes. Sports Med 22, 391–405 (1996).

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  • Anterior Cruciate Ligament
  • Adis International Limited
  • Sport Injury
  • Mood Disturbance
  • Athletic Trainer