‘Find a sport and carry on’: Posttraumatic growth and achievement in British Paralympic athletes

Hanna Kampman, Kate Hefferon

Abstract


Background: The negative aftermath of acquired disability has been studied rigorously. The research on achievement and success after an acquired disability is still in its infancy, and more research is needed on the positive psychological outcomes that may arise as a result of surviving and dealing with trauma. Objective: This study aimed to provide an in-depth account of the experience of acquired disability, engagement in elite sport and Posttraumatic Growth in Paralympic athletes. Method: Three self-selected athletes (two females, one male) from Great Britain's 2012 Paralympic team were interviewed using semi-structured techniques. The interviews were recorded, and the data was transcribed. Data were analysed using Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis (IPA). Results: The study identified that for these athletes, sport was a fundamental route to experiencing posttraumatic growth (PTG). Sport was perceived to be a platform of recovery, camaraderie, achievements and the basis for a new identity as an athlete. Furthermore, the team was seen as a resource, creating a safe environment in which to learn new skills, share practical ideas and promote a sense of equality. Additionally, the role of the body in facilitating PTG was central to these individuals’ experiences. Considerations of these findings as well as suggestions for future research are discussed.

Keywords


Acquired disability, Paralympic athlete, posttraumatic growth, sports, body

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.5502/ijw.v10i1.765

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