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Exploring the mental representation of athletic injury : a longitudinal case study.

Vergeer, I. (2006) 'Exploring the mental representation of athletic injury : a longitudinal case study.', Psychology of sport and exercise., 7 (1). pp. 99-114.

Abstract

Objectives Although ‘injury-related information processing’ has been identified as an important element of athletes' psychological reactions to injury, knowledge of the mental representation of athletic injuries and their fluctuations over time is still rather limited. The purpose of this study was to enhance this knowledge by exploring an athlete's injury-related thoughts, sensations and images throughout the recovery process. Design A prospective, longitudinal case-study design was used. Method The participant was a 28-year old male rugby player who had sustained a severely dislocated shoulder. Eight unstructured interviews were conducted over a period of 20 weeks, while a follow-up interview took place 3 years post-injury. The interviews were audio-taped, transcribed, and analysed using qualitative analyses procedures. Results Four interdependent themes emerged from the interviews: (a) awareness, (b) mental imagery, (c) mental model of the injury, and (d) mental ‘itinerary’ of the recovery process. The temporal dynamics of the recovery process were evident in the flux of attention-demanding properties of the injury; (dis)appearance of images over time; increasing complexity of the mental model; and construction and ‘concretisation’ of the mental itinerary. Furthermore, the role of the athlete's desired self-concept in shaping his inferences, actions and emotions, emerged as a fifth theme. Conclusions The findings were synthesised into a ‘multi-track’ conceptualisation of the athlete's covert and overt injury-related activities over time.

Item Type:Article
Keywords:Injury, Mental representation, Mental imagery, Information processing, Physical self.
Full text:PDF - Accepted Version (258Kb)
Status:Peer-reviewed
Publisher Web site:http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.psychsport.2005.07.003
Record Created:09 Feb 2009
Last Modified:16 Aug 2011 09:40

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