WHY SHOULD WE BE CONCERNED?
The transition back to sport has been proven to be a stressful period for a young athlete due to the perceptions of injury that may influence both their emotional and behavioral response to recovery. An athlete may experience re-injury anxiety, feelings of isolation and pressure to meet the expectations of parents, coaches and teammates. These emotion-related, cognition-related and behavior-related psychosocial factors are associated with a variety of rehabilitation outcomes.The majority of research surrounding the psychology of injury is geared towards adult and/or elite level athletes. There is little evidence that examines how an adolescent athlete deals with injury and recovery but there are age-specific differences that must be considered.
FACTORS SPECIFIC TO THE ADOLESCENT ATHLETE
Adolescent athletes demonstrate higher levels of postoperative/post-injury mood disturbances, heightened pain, increased anxiety and display early depressive symptoms following injury.It is not uncommon for athletes to feel pressure from coaches and teammates to return to sport before they are mentally prepared which can have negative consequences, to the extent of dropping out of sports altogether.
The increased pressure in combination with the negative stigma associated with psychological problems can be difficult for the adolescent to take on alone.
A more in depth understanding of the psychological component of injury can help in supporting adolescent athletes as they work through the injury and recovery process.