Not just a physical thing: The psychology of sports injuries and recovery – Boston Children’s Answers – Boston Children’s Discoveries

An athlete recovers from a sports injury.
Rest is integral to healing from sports injury, but for some athletes, time off from sports is deeply upsetting.
(Image: AdobeStock/Illustration: Sebastian Stankiewicz, Boston Children’s)

“Nobody plays sports expecting to get injured, but unfortunately, injuries are part of sports,” says Melissa Christino, MD. As a surgeon in the Sports Medicine Division at Boston Children’s Hospital, Christino helps athletes recover from sports injuries, some of which keep her patients on the sidelines for weeks or months at a time.

Key takeaways

  • An athlete’s psychological response to injury can either delay or enhance physical recovery.
  • Shame or stigma may prevent an athlete who is struggling emotionally from seeking help.
  • When an athlete is recovering from an injury, simply asking the patient how they’re coping from an emotional standpoint can be extremely valuable.
  • Rest is integral to physical healing. However, for some athletes, being injured and getting taken out of their sport can trigger significant mental health issues — anxiety, depression, and eating disorders to name a few.

    A recent literature review by Christino and her