Term of Award

Fall 2021

Degree Name

Master of Science, Kinesiology - Sport and Exercise Psychology Concentration

Document Type and Release Option

Thesis (open access)

Copyright Statement / License for Reuse

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.


Department of Health and Kinesiology

Committee Chair

Megan Byrd

Committee Member 1

Brandonn Harris

Committee Member 2

Steve Patterson


Lower extremity injuries are the most common musculoskeletal sport injuries and are an inevitable risk to sport participation (Chalmers, 2002; Dane et al., 2004; Kay et al., 2017). When an athlete sustains an injury, fear of re-injury is a salient emotion many athletes experience (e.g., Disanti et al., 2018; Kvist et al., 2005; Lentz et al., 2015). Previous research has identified fear of re-injury as a risk factor to suffering a subsequent injury (e.g., An et al., 2019; Andersen & Williams, 1988; Paterno et al., 2018; Podlog et al., 2011; Tagesson & Kvist, 2016). Epidemiology studies have highlighted that re-injuries are of high prevalence (e.g., Gans et al., 2018; Paterno et al., 2012), and are associated with lower return-to-play rates compared to the first injury occurrence (e.g., Gans et al., 2018; Webster et al., 2019). However, there is a lack of research that has explored the psychological and emotional response to a re-injury. Therefore, this study used a phenomenological qualitative approach to understand eight college athletes’ perceptions and lived experiences in regard to the psychological response to a lower-body re-injury. Five major themes were identified: (a) prior experience and knowledge, (b) concerns, (c) motivation, (d) social support, and (e) coping strategies. It appears that the re-injury experience, while a difficult experience, has some advantages. The athlete is already familiar with the physical and mental hardships of the injury, allowing them to better cope and progress through the rehabilitation. However, the repetitiveness of repeating the same injury process and not being able to participate in their sport for an even longer time was difficult and frustrating. Despite these hardships, the athletes’ appeared to have a renewed motivation as they gained a new perspective of cherishing their sport more and were proud of themselves of overcoming the adversity of re-injury. The findings from this study can be applied by sport personnel (e.g., coaches, athletic trainers, sport psychology professionals) to improve the re-injury experience by providing quality social support. Practical implications and future research direction will also be discussed.

Research Data and Supplementary Material