Date of Award


Document Type

Scholarly Project

Degree Name

Master of Occupational Therapy (MOT)


Occupational Therapy

First Advisor

Anne M. Haskins


Occupational Therapy -- methods; Athletic Injuries -- psychology; Sports Injuries -- rehabilitation


Purpose: The purpose of this scholarly project was to develop an occupational therapy based intervention program for persons who are experiencing changes in their role as athletes. These transitions may include return to sport following an injury, unanticipated retirement from sport, or anticipated retirement from sport.

Methods: A thorough literature search and review was conducted using the following research databases: CINAHL, Google Scholar, PubMed, and PsycINFO. Evidence from the occupational therapy, physical therapy, athletic training and psychology professions was reviewed regarding the prevalence of injury in varying sports contexts, athletes’ ability to transition during role changes or interruption, injury rehabilitation, career termination and programs available to address the aforementioned factors. Research findings have indicated a need for programming that targets promotion of an athletes’ healthy adjustment to life within and out of athletics. For example, following an injury, athletes may be physically ready to return to competitive sports but not mentally/psychologically prepared. This lack of readiness has also been documented in those transitioning out of sports. There is a lack of published programming available to address athletes’ psychological and physical needs for role transitioning, transitioning out of sport, transitioning to a different level of sport, injury intervention, and prevention of unhealthy lifestyles that may accompany retirement from sport.

Results: Based on available evidence and theoretical literature, a program was created to address athletes’ psychological and physical needs during periods of transition and injury. The Occupational Adaptation model and Self-Determination Theory were utilized as the foundation for the development of this program. The product includes a number of assessments, which are the Athletic Identity Measurement Scale (AIMS), Canadian Occupational Performance Measure (COPM), Brief COPE, Life Roles Inventory, and Disabilities of the Arm, Shoulder, and Hand (DASH). These assessments will be used to measure and understand the athlete’s perspective of readiness to return back to sport or transition out of sport, ability to cope, and self-identification of life roles. The goal of this program is to ensure the athletes’ transition is a healthy process, that the athlete is physically and mentally ready to return to his or her sport, or to facilitate a healthy transition out of competitive athletics. The final product of this project is a program, in the form of a manual, that occupational therapists can use during the rehabilitation process to guide the physical and psychological rehabilitation of the athlete. Interventions may include the athlete’s development of coping skills, promotion of healthy social supports, setting realistic expectations and goals, maintenance of open lines of communication between coaches, family, rehabilitation team members and teammates, and recognition of components of identity outside of sport.

Conclusion: This program is intended for implementation in sports medicine facilities, outpatient clinics, hospitals, high school, collegiate, and professional athletic teams. The program is anticipated to promote healthy transition both physically and psychologically following injury, career termination from sports, and developing healthy lifestyle habits after participation in competitive athletics.