The paralympic journey from trauma to triumph: Using the 2012 Paralympic Games as a force for positive psychological change
University of Chichester
Objectives: While the negative psychological impacts of
traumatic disability have been well documented, some individuals are able to
demonstrate a remarkable ability to cope by making new meanings from their
negative experiences. This research aimed to understand the experiences of
Paralympic athletes who have experienced traumatic disability and utilised this
experience to adopt new goals and ambitions through participation in elite
Design: A qualitative, longitudinal design was used to
support the exploratory nature of the research.
Methods: Participants were six athletes taking part in
Paralympic programmes and aiming to compete in the 2012 Paralympic Games.
Participants all had an acquired disability and were taking part in a variety
of sports. Thematic, life history interviews were conducted during the year
prior to the Paralympic Games. These interviews examined the experiences of
these individuals prior to disability and their coping strategies post-disability. Specifically, these interviews focused on the psychological impact
of being a paralympic athlete at a home Paralympic Games, and the influence
that this had on their recovery from trauma.
Results: Given the longitudinal nature and focus of the
research, data collection is still in progress. However, preliminary results
have indicated that participation in Paralympic sport may enhance the potential
for positive outcome and growth following disabling injury.
Conclusions: This study highlights the psychological
benefits and life changes that may be gained from participation in the