Fear Avoidance Following Musculoskeletal Injury in Male Adolescent Gaelic Footballers

in Journal of Sport Rehabilitation
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Context: Participating in Gaelic football provides a wealth of benefits, but a risk of musculoskeletal injury also exists. Injury is associated with physical consequences, including pain, discomfort, loss of function, time absent from school/sport, and considerable medical expenses, along with placing undue pressure on emergency services and hospital staff. Concurrent psychological consequences, such as fear avoidance, can also occur, causing psychological distress. There is a current dearth of available research examining the psychology of injury in male adolescent Gaelic footballers. Objective: To examine fear avoidance postinjury in male adolescent Gaelic footballers, the effect of pain, time loss, injury severity, and previous injury on the extent of fear avoidance, and the usefulness of a modified Athlete Fear Avoidance Questionnaire (AFAQ) as a screening tool for predicting injury. Design: Prospective cohort study. Setting: Recreational clubs. Participants: A total of 97 male adolescent club Gaelic footballers (13.4 [1.1] y). Interventions: Musculoskeletal injuries sustained during participation in Gaelic football, defined as any injury sustained during training or competition causing restricted performance or time lost from play, were assessed and recorded weekly by a certified athletic and rehabilitation therapist. Injuries requiring time loss from participation were classed as time-loss injuries. Injury characteristics that included type, nature, location, severity, and pain were recorded. Main Outcome Measures: Injured players completed the AFAQ, a measure of injury-related fear avoidance following injury assessment (AFAQ1). With time-loss injuries, the AFAQ was completed again (AFAQ2) prior to return to play. Modified AFAQ was completed at baseline. Results: Twenty-two injuries were recorded during the season with fear avoidance evident postinjury that significantly decreased before returning to play. Fear avoidance postinjury was higher in those with greater pain but time loss, injury severity, and previous injury did not significantly affect the extent of fear avoidance. Baseline fear avoidance did not predict injury. Conclusions: Psychological rehabilitation is recommended for managing postinjury psychological distress in male adolescent Gaelic footballers.

O’Keeffe and Ní Chéilleachair are with the Department of Sport & Health Sciences, Athlone Institute of Technology, Athlone, Ireland. O’Connor is with the School of Health & Human Performance, Dublin City University, Dublin, Ireland.

O’Keeffe (s.okeeffe@research.ait.ie) is corresponding author.
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