Aug 6, 2015
Study Links Academic Stress to Injury

A new study from the University of Missouri links academic stress with a higher rate of injury. Researchers followed 101 NCAA Division I football players during a 20-week season and found they were 3.19 times more likely to become injured during times of high academic stress, like midterm and finals weeks.

“Stress is systemic,” Bryan Mann, an assistant professor of physical therapy and assistant director of strength and conditioning for Mizzou Athletics, told “Everything players deal with on a daily basis creates stress. They don’t have separate accounts to withdraw from for practice, school and relationships. Whenever there’s stress, something’s got to give. Otherwise, it’s similar to when unexpected expenses arise at the same time and you’re likely to overdraw your checking account. It’s the same idea but on a physiological basis rather than a monetary one.”

With this data, coaches may be able use the academic calendar to prevent injury.

“We know when there will be midterms or finals, and we can plan for these academic stressors and accommodate practices accordingly to minimize the risk of injuries,” Mann said. “Some stressors we can’t predict, but if we know about them, then there are things that we can do. Coaches should get to know the athletes and watch how their attitudes change. As attitudes change, it usually indicates that something else is going on in their lives. We’ve got to find those causes so we can be proactive and get the athletes counseling or find other ways to meet their needs.”

The University of Missouri has a support program specifically for student-athletes, the Total Person Program, that provides academic support, career counseling, and psychological counseling, among other things. If a student-athlete is stressed, on-campus resources can help address it.

“Whereas the demands placed on the student-athletes are high, it is imperative that we provide services that focus on their health and well-being,” said Bryan Maggard, the executive associate athletic director of Mizzou Athletics and director of the Total Person Program. “Our comprehensive services are geared to assist all students academically, socially and competitively.”

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