Martina Ferrante and Dr. Adele Muscat
All athletes get injured at some point, with this hindering performance and disrupting the individual’s daily routine. In their quest to heal the injury physically, physiotherapists often overlook the psychological aspects and, this can be a limiting factor in athletes returning to play (RTP) confidently. This qualitative study explores the perceptions and attitudes physiotherapists hold regarding the use of psychological interventions during rehabilitation as research in this area is limited. Six physiotherapists were interviewed to gather an in-depth understanding of their knowledge and experiences. Data was analysed using Thematic Analysis (TA). The main themes that emerged were: physiotherapists’ injury perception; factors influencing an injury; lack of psychological interventions; professional versus amateur; and psychological interventions employed. All physiotherapists were well-informed regarding the psychological effects of the injury on the athlete and how such effects influence rehabilitation and performance upon RTP. However, results indicate that the use of psychological interventions in sports rehabilitation is still lacking. Participants noted a lack of resources and knowledge on the subject; time constraints as well as the topic being underestimated as possible reasons for this. Five out of the six physiotherapists interviewed have liaised with a sports psychologist and seen a change in pre and post-psychological interventions. The results of this study imply the need for physiotherapists to be educated further regarding the use of psychological skills for rehabilitation as well as for sports psychologists to be better embedded within a clinic or club’s medical team.
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