The Effect of Physical Injury on Mental Health

Written By: John McLeish

When a person enjoys being active, participating in anything from walking or working out to playing tennis, basketball or hockey, a physical injury can really take a toll.  In fact, in our experience as personal injury lawyers in Toronto, we’ve often seen the physical injury heal, but the mental-health effects linger.

It makes sense. Physical injuries are generally easy to see and treat. The cast may come off, the course of physiotherapy is successful, the scars fade. The frustration and depression that come along with being housebound, or even “less” active, might not have been diagnosed at all. Unaddressed, those symptoms can persist.

The Sports Science Institute researched the emotional responses student-athletes can have to injuries. We believe they are representative of what many of our clients have expressed during and even after their physical recovery:

  • Sadness
  • Isolation
  • Irritation
  • Lack of motivation
  • Anger
  • Frustration
  • Changes in appetite
  • Sleep disturbance
  • Disengagement

When someone’s social life or structure revolves around being physically active, he or she is suddenly at a loss not only for what to do, but for the familiarity of routine and perhaps even friends.  Everything has changed, from missing volleyball games with the gang on Tuesday nights to, sometimes, the dynamics of the whole household.

If you have suffered an injury that is preventing you from getting out and enjoying your usual physical activities, whether low-impact, moderate or intense, be aware of not just your physical but your mental health.  Also be aware that it’s completely normal and to be expected if you feel anxious or depressed.

Take steps to address all aspects of your health as – or after – you recover from an injury.

John McLeish


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