RETURN TO SPORT: Improving Athletes’ Confidence and Mindset Post-ACL Surgery
What is the purpose of our study?
- Physical therapy is standard for post-ACL surgical rehabilitation, though such protocols normally do NOT address directly athletes’ psychological responses to the injury, surgery, and recovery. In fact, most athletes, at some point during their injury and/or post-surgery, will experience a range of emotional responses, including anxiety, depression, tension, irritability, loss of confidence, and loss of self-esteem. Such emotional reactions can negatively affect the athletes’ overall psychological well-being as well as their physical healing and rehabilitation.
- Thus, the purpose of our study is test the effectiveness of three different psychological interventions. Our protocols have been designed to help athletes improve their:
- physical rehabilitation post ACL surgery,
- psychological reactions to their injury and what they are feeling post-surgery,
- overall psychological well-being as they progress through their recovery, and
- confidence in returning to sport.
What are the potential benefits for athletes who participate in the study?
- Although the specific effects of the intervention may vary from athlete to athlete, generally athletes may expect to experience:
- Decreases in perception of pain
- Decreases in reinjury anxiety
- Decreases in depressive symptoms
- Improvement in knee strength and functioning
- Increased confidence in returning to sport
- Improvements in ability to cope effectively with the physical and psychological challenges associated with rehabilitation
- ENHANCED SPORT PERFORMANCE after physically being cleared to return to sport
What is the time commitment for participants?
- The interventions have been designed to require a minimal time commitment from athletes prior to and following their ACL surgeries. Specifically, eligible athletes will participate in the following:
- One in-person 30-minute session pre-surgery (2 to 7 days before surgery)
- Three in-person 30-minute sessions post-surgery (Weeks 1, 2, & 4)
- Four sessions that will be sent to the athletes via email (Weeks 7, 10, 13, & 16)
- Athletes will complete 10-15 minute surveys four times during the first four months post-surgery and then again at 6, 9, and 12 months
- In between scheduled appointments, athletes will practice the psychological skills they have been taught 3-5 times per week, generally 10 minutes per practice session
What is the cost to participate?
- There is NO COST for participating in the study.
- Athletes will be randomly assigned to one of the three psychological interventions, which have been valued at $1000.00
- Also, athletes can earn up to $40 for their participation in this study.
How do I determine if I am eligible for the study?
- If you are an athlete who has torn your ACL and you are interested in returning to sport post-surgery, then you may be eligible for the study. To determine your eligibility, please contact our research staff at:
When contacting us please include the following information: your name, best way to reach you (phone, email, text), date of your surgery (if known), and the name of your doctor.
Remember, the first session of the study must occur in the 2 to 7 days prior to surgery. If your surgery is already scheduled, please contact us immediately.
***This study has been approved by the University of North Texas’ Institution Review Board for Human Subjects Research***
UNT Center for Sport Psychology Services
Top level athletes know that to achieve performance excellence, they have to be at their best, not only physically, but mentally as well. Are you doing everything possible to ensure that you are mentally prepared to perform consistently at the highest level?
Whatever your skill level, your age, gender, or sport, we can help you evaluate your current performance and develop the skills and mindset needed to reach your optimal level of performance and enjoy what you are doing. We offer specialized services and resources for:
Graduate Education in Sport Psychology at UNT
At UNT, there are two educational options for students interested in pursuing a graduate degree in sport psychology. First, within the Department of Kinesiology, Health Promotion, and Recreation, students can pursue a master’s degree in Kinesiology that emphasizes the psychosocial aspects of sport. To learn more about this degree option, click here.
Second, students can pursue a doctorate within the Psychology Department’s APA-accredited counseling psychology program and then select sport psychology as their specialization. Students who graduate from the doctoral program will be eligible for licensure as a psychologist and certification as a sport consultant through the Association for Applied Sport Psychology. To learn more about this degree option, click here.