Coping with Injury
Updated: Jan 14
by April Corey
My son broke his collarbone this past weekend diving for a basketball during his game. A much bigger kid, combined with the gym floor, and apparently some crazy way my son dove, ended with a broken collarbone. Unfortunately, this is the second time he has broken his left collarbone in just over two years because of sports.
One of the first things out of his mouth when we got home from the emergency room was that he was going to have to eat really healthy and not as much so that he doesn’t get fat. My son is 13 years old. Why in the world did that even cross his mind? It made my mama heart ache.
His basketball coach explained that once the pain subsides and he is allowed to exercise the extremities that aren’t broken/healing, then he would give us some physical and mental exercises for my son to do. His concern was that my son would get depressed. Depressed? WHAT?!?!
But the more I thought about it, the more I realized that teenagers are no different than adults when they get injured. If the teenager is heavily involved in a sport or activity that is their true passion and it is suddenly taken away temporarily due to injury or illness, there will more than likely be bouts of sadness and possibly anger.
“Will I ever heal well enough to play again?”
“Will I lose my spot on the team because I will be out for X amount of time?”
“Will I ever get to the level that I was at before the illness/injury?”
I find that these are the same questions that I have asked myself during times of illness and injury.
As an adult, I know what helps me mentally and physically and the steps I need to take to ensure my sanity. Here are some of the points to keep in mind whether helping yourself or a loved one through an injury:
Come up with Alternatives.
We have discussed the healing process and why it's important not to rush back to his favorite sports too early. We have also come up with different types of fun we can have while he is temporarily sidelined, such as the movies and different types of games.
Stay involved in the sport.
Even though he can’t play basketball right now, he is eager to cheer on his teammates at their upcoming games and show his support.
Continue eating healthy.
We have also had discussions on healthy eating, regardless of injury and that “getting fat” should be the furthest from his mind.
Lean on others.
Sometimes a big hug and a good cry help too.
The majority of us haven’t been teenagers for a long time. But, after watching my 13 year old son deal with his injury, it has been eye opening. Even as adult athletes, we need to take a step back and think of how we should respond to when we get sidelined due to an injury or illness. Do you beat yourself up and lament that your life as you knew it, is over? Do you overindulge in food or alcohol to make yourself feel better? To avoid spiraling down that slippery slope of depression, think of what you can do rather than what you can’t do. Yes, there may be some body composition changes or muscle loss as you recover but you will have to give yourself grace during this time and find something else to make you happy. Reading, board games and volunteering are some options, but there are millions of others that you can pursue. Patience is hard, whether you are a kid or an adult. You can’t beat yourself up during this time, but rather talk to yourself like a parent or caring friend would…with grace, love and a bit of humor.