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Renee Newcomer Appaneal, Frank M. Perna and Kevin T. Larkin

Features of posttraumatic distress have been associated with treatment noncompliance and delayed surgical recovery among general medical and trauma populations. Although cognitive-affective and behavioral features of posttraumatic distress have been demonstrated among adult and adolescent athletes with injuries, physiological responses associated with posttraumatic distress have not yet been examined in this population. The objective of this study was to examine psychophysiological stress reactivity to orthopedic trauma among male athletes who sustained a severe sport injury. Athletes with injuries (n= 7) and non-injured athlete controls (n= 5) completed self-report measures of psychological distress and were then shown injury video footage while heart rate and skin conductance measures were recorded. After exposure to orthopedic trauma-related video footage, athletes with injuries demonstrated significantly greater skin conductance reactivity and subjective distress compared to controls. As demonstrated among other medical and trauma populations, athletes with injuries exhibit exaggerated stress reactivity profiles when primed with orthopedic trauma stimuli.