ACL Injury in the Young Athlete
An ACL injury experienced by a young athlete is a traumatic situation. It is often the first experience of an injury that prevents them from participation in a sport. It can involve much pain for the athlete, as well as the parent who has aspirations of their child competing at a high level with the idea that this may be their ticket to a college scholarship. This can create additional stress and hardship for the young athlete.
As a physical therapist that has worked for almost 25 years with athletes, young and old, I can say that the mental anguish experienced with the ACL injury deserves as much, if not more, attention as the physical pain and work that lies ahead in the rehabilitation process.
Attention to the mental aspect of injury in the young athlete requires a redirection of focus and discipline. Focus must be redirected to the challenge that lies ahead in the restoration of movement, strength and function. Individual discipline must be channeled to daily home exercises, management of the highs and lows that are experienced with the change in activity level, and separation from the team. This is an opportunity for the young athlete to grow as an athlete and individual; be rewarded by overcoming this challenge, more connected with your body, and more absolute in your goals. I have experienced many young athletes rise from fear and loss, and return stronger than they were before the injury. Physically and Mentally.
There is a quote I recite over and over to the individuals experiencing this fear and loss in the early stages of physical therapy.
Don’t Turn Your Head,
Keep Looking at the Bandaged Place,
This is Where Light Enters You.
Any injury is an opportunity to grow from the challenge that is presented. This giving attention to the situation will reward you with a new found strength and success. And so, this is Where Light Will Enter You.
Your Mental GamePlan for success in sports includes the ability to manage the unexpected injury that occurs as a consequence of intense practice and participation.