This past Sunday, NFL players went down in droves, suffering an alarming number of injuries. The severe nature of each of these injuries is a hot topic on sports radio and television programs. What is not being discussed is the psychological toll serious sports-related injuries might have on these athletes.
Quarterbacks were hit particularly hard. Rams Sam Bradford suffered a torn ACL, the Bears Jake Cutler a torn groin, and Eagles QB Nick Foles a concussion. A torn LCL and broken leg took down Texans linebacker Brian Cushing. This after suffering a season-ending ACL injury on the same knee last season. Colts receiver Reggie Wayne suffered a torn ACL. Tampa Bay receiver Doug Martin suffered a torn labrum. The Packers Jermichael Finley is out with a severe head and neck injury. And the Bears Lance Briggs suffered a shoulder injury.
All of these injuries are serious in nature. Some might be career-threatening or career-ending.
It is well documented that athletes suffer intense physical pain when injured. There is nothing pleasant about breaking bones and tearing ligaments and tendons. What is not well documented or being discussed is the psychological pain and suffering athletes experience at the time of the injury and throughout the entire diagnostic, surgical, and recovery process.
Sports-related injuries have a spectrum of severity. Mild injuries might require time off and therapy. More serious injuries require surgery and rehab. The most intense can be career-threatening or career-ending and can place the athlete’s future participation in sports in question.
Athletes on the more severe end of the spectrum have talked with me about how bad the injury was when it occurred. But in most cases, the most painful experiences while injured are the critical impact moments that occur after the injury. [Read more…]