RETURN TO SPORT: Improving Athletes’ Confidence and Mindset Post-ACL Surgery








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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:


Phone:  940-369-7767

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***