The rehabilitation of 77 competitive athletes with long-term injuries was followed for 2–3 years from the time of the injury with the aim of identifying potential risk factors in rehabilitation. Seven athletes not returning to competitive sport despite favorable physical records were compared with 5 athletes who returned despite unfavorable records and with 65 athletes whose rehabilitation met expectations. Twelve tests were employed on four different occasions. The results suggested that being younger, being female, and having had no previous experience with injury characterized the nonreturning athlete. An insufficient mental plan for rehabilitation and a predominantly negative attitude toward it, as well as restricted social contacts with fellow athletes and a low mood level, appeared to accompany a problematic and prolonged rehabilitation. It was concluded that the nonreturning, long-term injured athlete can be identified as early as the beginning of the rehabilitation process.
Urban Johnson was with the Department of Social and Behavioural Science, Halmstad University, Box 823, S-301 18 Halmstad, Sweden, at the time of this study and is currently with the Department of Applied Psychology, Lund University, Sweden.