Utilizing Imagery to Enhance Injury Rehabilitation

Author: Marty Durden

Marty Durden, Ed. D., United States Sports Academy
M. Ed., Troy University

Athletic Director
Presbyterian School
5300 Main Street
Houston, TX
mdurden@pshouston.org
(706) 681-5904

Marty Durden is the Director of Athletics and Director of the Presbyterian Outdoor Education Center in Houston, TX. He serves as adjunct professor in Sports Management for Concordia University, Austin TX. He also serves as adjunct professor in Educational Leadership at Bellhaven University in Jackson, MS.

UTILIZING IMAGERY TO ENHANCE INJURY REHABILITATION

ABSTRACT
Recovering from injury is an unfortunate byproduct of athletic participation. The rehabilitation process can be an arduous experience full of discouragement. The athlete who approaches rehab with a positive attitude and a goal-oriented plan can turn the tough task of recovery into an affirmative experience. Therapy can result in the athlete being better prepared for future obstacles and in a better position to succeed. The athlete who takes charge of the rehabilitation process in a proactive manner has an improved chance to overcome the debilitating effects of injury.

A proven method that enhances the rehabilitation process is the utilization of mental imagery. Wise use of imagery techniques streamlines the recovery period and minimizes the psychological damage to the athlete. Imagery allows the athlete to participate actively in the progression and assume ownership for recovery. Utilizing imagery techniques allows a locus of control that lends hope for a timely return to competition. Visual imagery allows the athlete to see the movements that lead to restoration. Emotive imagery allows the athlete to see the possibilities that lead to recuperation. Healing imagery allows the athlete to sense and see the transformational process of recovery as the body responds via the natural effects of the healing. Utilization of imagery allows the athlete to be stronger than before, armed with a positive self-image, and satisfied with the efforts that brought them through this tough struggle.

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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.

ABSTRACT

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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