Imagery Use and Sport-Related Injury Rehabilitation

Submitted by Matthew L. Symonds1* and Amanda S. Deml2*

1* Associate Professor, Department of Health and Human Services, Northwest Missouri State University

2* Intramural Sports Coordinator, University of Oregon

Amanda Deml is the Intramural Sports Coordinator at the University of Oregon. She earned both her BS and MS Ed degrees from Northwest Missouri State University in Maryville, Missouri. Matthew Symonds is an Associate Professor in the Department of Health and Human Services at Northwest Missouri State University and also serves as Department Chair.


This study sought to investigate mental imagery use among college athletes during the rehabilitation process, specifically examining the use of three functions of imagery – motivational, cognitive, and healing. The Athletic Injury Imagery Questionnaire-2 (AIIQ-2) was administered to varsity athletes representing 12 varsity sports at public, regional, Masters I institutions in the Midwestern United States. From the convenience sample, survey respondents included 61 males and 82 females.  The study examined imagery use by: (a) sport and gender of current varsity athletes at the institution, and (b) between groups of respondents self-reporting as injured on uninjured. Results indicated that motivational imagery was more commonly employed than cognitive and healing imagery in the rehabilitation process. In addition, males used each function of imagery more than females. Furthermore, differences among sports concerning cognitive and healing imagery existed. No significant differences among injured and uninjured athletes and imagery use were found. The results of this study provided insight and additional perspective as to imagery use in the rehabilitation process. We recommend athletes, coaches, and athletic training personnel develop and implement imagery practices to improve athletic performance and the effectiveness of the injury rehabilitation process.

Key words: imagery, injury, rehabilitation

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