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After reading this chapter, the learner should be able to demonstrate the following competencies and proficiencies concerning psychological issues in rehabilitation:

  • Explain the stress-response model and psychological and emotional responses to trauma and forced inactivity.

  • Describe the basic principles of interaction among personality traits and social and environmental factors.

  • Explain the importance of providing health care information to patients, parents/guardians, and others regarding the psychological and emotional well-being of the patient.

  • Explain the basic techniques of counseling and interpersonal communication used among clinicians, their patients, and others involved in the health care of the patient.

  • Describe the basic principles of mental preparation, relaxation, and imagery techniques.

  • Describe motivational techniques that can be used during injury rehabilitation and reconditioning.

  • Explain the psychosocial requirements (i.e., motivation and self-confidence) of various activities that relate to the readiness of the injured or ill individual to resume participation.

  • Identify the symptoms and signs of maladjustment and the proper procedures that govern the referral of patients.

  • Demonstrate the ability to select and integrate appropriate motivational techniques into a patient's rehabilitation program.


Although most would argue that rehabilitation prescription is a science, one could also make a case for the idea that building a good patient–practitioner relationship in the rehabilitation process is an art. Individuals who have experienced injuries, especially injuries with longer rehabilitation time, will most likely need a solid working alliance with their clinicians to get through the recovery process. Because long-term injuries usually have stronger psychological effects on individuals than short-term injuries,1 the focus of the chapter is on the psychological rehabilitation of injuries with expected rehabilitation of more than 4 weeks. More specifically, clinicians, through reading this chapter, can hope to gain a better understanding of what the injured patient may be going through and how to help them successfully complete their rehabilitation. Specific objectives for the chapter are based on the cognitive and clinical competencies of the National Athletic Trainers' Association (NATA).2 Whereas all rehabilitation plans involve hard work and patience from the patient, there are ways the clinicians can enhance the recovery process. Taylor and Taylor explain that the formula for successful injury rehabilitation involves understanding, organization, and progress.3 Clinicians play a key role in this formula by providing information to the patient about the recovery process, organizing a plan for recovery, and then assisting in maintaining motivation.3

Clinical Pearl 3-1

Successful injury rehabilitation occurs when there is a solid working alliance built between the clinician and patient.

The chapter is organized into three main sections, starting with conceptual issues, then moving into the role of the clinician in assisting with the psychological aspects of the recovery, and concluding with rehabilitation adherence strategies and interventions. In addition to these sections, there is a list of the clinical competencies covered in the chapter, case studies to be used for group discussions, ...

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