The mind is just as important as the body in achieving victory," said Thomas J. Ferraro, Ph.D., sports psychologist at Winthrop-University Hospital.
Dr. Ferraro has joined forces with Winthrop's renowned Department of Orthopaedic Surgery to provide comprehensive psychological evaluations as a complement to the Hospital's world-class Sports Medicine Program.
Sports injuries, which plague both professional athletes as well as the "weekend warrior," can be debilitating not only to the body, but also the mind. Dr. Ferraro explained that an individual, who sustains an injury and is rendered inactive or sidelined from a beloved sport, may develop self-doubt that becomes as hindering as the injury itself.
"Many athletes -- from the professional football player to the recreational runner -- become more hesitant about their sport after an injury," he said. "They start worrying more and question their ability."
Sports psychologists deal with injuries to the emotional well-being of a person. Mending the mind is just as important as mending the body, explained Dr. Ferraro, who finds that anger, depression and performance anxiety can interfere with recovery -- especially with competitive athletes. In addition, an athlete's emotional state can sometimes leaitating not onld to injury.
In a team setting, Dr. Ferraro helps professional athletes with everything from relationship problems with coaches and teammates to devising pre-game strategies and focusing on the most important component of a game. On an individual basis, he works with people, whose injuries have sidelined them from recreational sports they enjoy, dealing with emotions such as depression and helping them to slowly ease back into a sport.
"Any injury can certainly cause feelings of depression and even anger in an individual about losing their athletic outlet," said Dr. Ferraro. "I help patients to focus on the future and realize that an injury doesn't mean a loss of ability. It is a minor setback -- a challenge to overcome. We work together to find a way to modify the sport they love or find another activity that would make them feel equally good."
He also stressed that it is important for injured athletes to take their recovery one step at a time, working with their physician on proper rehabilitation. "It's important not to overdo it during recovery and risk re-injuring oneself," Dr. Ferraro added.
The physical component
"Winthrop's Orthopaedic Sports Medicine Program is one of the area's leading programs, helping the active individual get back on their feet quickly and fully after an injury," said Frank R. DiMaio, M.D., Chairman of Winthrop's Department of Orthopaedic Surgery.
The program includes renowned orthopaedic surgeons and specialists who focus on every joint in the body -- from ankles and wrists to knees and hips for both adults and children.
In fact, one of the department's orthopaedic surgeons, Dr. Mark Grossman, was named US Army All-American Bowl head team physician -- a prestigious appointment in the world of sports medicine.
"The field of Sports Medicine encompasses all aspects of the athlete," said Grossman. "From cutting-edge arthroscopy of the shoulder, elbow and knee to the psychology of injury, it is all available at Winthrop."
For more information about the Institute for Specialty Care's Sports Medicine Program at Winthrop-University Hospital, call 1-866-WINTHROP.