Date of Defense


Date of Graduation



Human Performance and Health Education

First Advisor

Julie Raedy

Second Advisor

Kristal Ehrhardt


Injuries that force athletes to lose participation in their sport and or training have a tremendous impact on their mental health. Mental health issues can be detrimental, but often times go unnoticed. For example in 2010, Kenny McKinley, a wide receiver for the Denver Broncos, was found dead after killing himself with a gun. After suffering a knee injury, he had become progressively depressed. Investigators reported that there are statements saying that McKinley didn’t know what he would do without football. According to NCAA’s Sports Science Institute (2017), the psychological response to injury can trigger mental health issues such as: depression, anxiety, eating disorders, and substance abuse (Putukian, 2017). Common impacts of mental issues include a decreased desire to participate in every day activities and social activities, as well as feelings of stress, isolation, sadness, anger, and frustration. Injuries can also have an affect on an athlete’s play because of their fear of re-injury.

Psychological effects of injuries among athletes are very important aspects to understand for physical therapists and athletic trainers. Just as a child looks at their parent to see how they should react to a fall on the playground, athletes look similarly to their trainers and support team. If those supporting the injured athlete have a positive outlook on the injury, then the athlete is more likely to have a similar view. It’s critical that those supporting the injured athlete stay positive during recovery. Athletic trainers and physical therapists play an integral role in the psychological recovery from injury.

The primary purpose of this research is to identify mental health issues that injured athletes encounter. In addition, this review will examine the role physical therapists and athletic trainers have on the injured athlete. In conclusion, there will be a suggested treatment plan for physical therapists and athletic trainers to follow while working with an injured athlete that may have mental health issues associated with their injury.

Access Setting

Honors Thesis-Open Access