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Medical Moment: sports psychology for rehab

Published: Nov. 23, 2021 at 6:52 PM EST
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For an injured athlete, the pain of physical rehab can be grueling. But even when the injury heals, many still face doubt and uncertainty.

Annabeth Towarnicky began skiing at three. She started racing in high school, but there were two bad accidents. The first, she broke her left knee, tore the ACL and meniscus, and shattered her shin bone.

The second, a year later, she broke her right knee on the first practice of the season. One doctor advised her to never ski again.

Undeterred, she did a lot of physical rehab, but she underestimated the mental aspect. Her first time back on the slopes, she froze and began to cry.

That’s when Annabeth realized she needed her mind to be as strong as her meniscus.

Annabeth used psychology to regain her confidence.

Working out on a simulator puts her mind in a better place. It pinpoints details you can’t feel on the snow. But there were other tasks.

First, she was advised to write a letter to her fear. Then, tear it up. She also accepted that there is risk in everything you do.

Finally, she began to use imagery. Visualizing all the joy heading down a hill.

For now, she’ll continue to get physically and mentally stronger on the simulator and is looking forward to being back racing on the real snow.

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