The Perceived Impact of Social Support Provided by Athletic Trainers and Student Athletic Trainers to Injured Collegiate Athletes
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The positive effects of social support received by injured college athletes are beneficial to their recovery. There are many social groups that participate in the support of injured athletes including the athletic training staff, parents, coaches, teammates, and friends. The injured athlete’s athletic trainers may play the most significant role by providing a portion of this psychosocial support. A large amount of social support can enhance an injured athlete’s optimism, motivation, and recovery rate for their specific injury. Conversely, a lack of social support can diminish an injured athlete’s recovery rate, increase stress and depression, and decrease motivation to return to their sport. In this study, the researcher investigated the validity of Barefield’s (1997) findings regarding how athletes respond to social support given by certified and student athletic trainers. This study involved 32 male and 5 female injured athletes. They participated in football, lacrosse, soccer, volleyball, baseball, and cross-country at a Southeastern Wisconsin Division III College. A modified Social Support Survey created by Richman (1993) was administered to the 37 injured athletes to collect quantitative data. Results were then analyzed for each injured athlete as well as for the total group of injured athletes. Results indicated that injured athletes received more social support from certified athletic trainers compared to student athletic trainers. Results also indicated that injured athletes expect the same amount of social support regardless of the different sport involved and injury length. The results of this study will be of special interest to certified athletic trainers and student athletic trainers who deal with injured athletes. It is important that social groups are aware of their role in an injured athlete’s recovery process, especially certified athletic trainers. Certified athletic trainers are able to help these injured collegiate athletes with their recovery process by not just treating the specific injury, but treating the individual including psychosocial needs and mental well-being.
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