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Sport psychology counseling, concussions and CTE?

The role a sport psychology counselor plays in dealing with concussion and CTE

There are a number of sport psychology principles and practices related to the growing issue of CTE. They are psychological issues of sport injury and rehabilitation, coping with sport stress, managing anxiety and neuropsychology. Each one seems to fall under one of two categories, which are working with the athletes who put themselves into a position to potentially develop CTE later in life, such as the hockey enforcer, and working with the athletes once they begin to develop symptoms of CTE and helping them to cope with this new reality.

There are many psychological issues that need to be addressed with the injured athletes and their rehabilitation process. For a concussion, that can include giving the brain the proper time to heal, dealing with the frustration of having the brain injury, which is very different than a “physical” injury. Then there is helping with the process of re-engaging in the activity that caused the injury. For the enforcers, they know they will have to fight again, which means more blows to the head, increasing the risk of re-occurrence of the injury. Concussions are not like other injuries that usually have a set rehabilitation period, for every individual recovery is different, and there can be many set-backs along the way, such as the reoccurrence of symptoms including dizziness, vomiting, headaches, slowed reaction time, insomnia, irritability, confusion or cloudiness to name a few. It is also an injury that one can hide very easily, and often goes under reported, especially in cases where a loss of consciousness did not occur. Often one can even play one’s sport while having a concussion. Once the rehabilitation process is complete, then the athletes still have to deal with the stress and anxiety that comes with getting back out on the field or rink.

All of these issues fall under the role of a sport psychology counselor. Helping athletes move through the injury process, and when it comes to concussions is different and not as straight forward as other injuries that can be sustained. Techniques on how to work with the psychological issues outlined will be looked at in depth in the next part.

If you are struggling with any type of injury it is important to get help and know that there are things you can do to help get through it and potentially use to be stronger and better in the future.


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