Incorporating stress management into athletic injury rehabilitation

J Athl Train. 1998 Oct;33(4):372-4.


Objective: Our objective is to provide a paradigm that can assist certified athletic trainers in selecting and implementing techniques to help athletes cope with the stress associated with injury.

Background: The psychological impact of injury and the stress associated with rehabilitation are well known in the athletic training room. Specific stress management techniques should be determined by the personality of the athlete, the specific stressors associated with the injury and rehabilitation process, and the education and expertise of the certified athletic trainer. Therefore, it is important that certified athletic trainers be proficient in stress theory regarding the psychological aspects of injury, as well as the techniques to address them.

Description: We provide a framework that applies transactional theory to athletic injury and suggests that an athlete's belief about injury plays a central role in the stress reaction. It describes the role of the certified athletic trainer in addressing the 4 components of transactional theory: 1) increased awareness, 2) information processing and appraisal, 3) modified behavior, and 4) peaceful resolution with injured athletes.

Clinical advantages: The application of this conceptual framework allows certified athletic trainers to differentiate stress management techniques based on the individual athlete's reaction rather than apply a generic approach.