Date of Award:


Document Type:


Degree Name:

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)



Committee Chair(s)

Richard Gordin, Keith Checketts


Richard Gordin


Keith Checketts


David Stein


Kevin Masters


Lani Van Dusen


As an exploratory, developmental injury intervention study, this research investigated the efficacy of providing psychological intervention in the form of relaxation and guided imagery to a group of orthopedic patients recovering from major knee surgery. Utilizing a prospective, experimental research design with 30 subjects randomly assigned to either an intervention, placebo, or control group, this study employed physiological as well as psychological outcome measures. Intervention consisted of 10 individual mental practice sessions for intervention group members as an adjunct to physical therapy. Content of these sessions was intentionally designed to facilitate physiotherapy goals. Imagery protocols with which to deliver these standardized sessions were also designed to directly parallel established physical rehabilitation protocols. Placebo group participants were exposed to nonspecific intervention factors of attention and support, while control group members completed their physical therapy as usual.

Results of this study revealed that for this sample of anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) orthopedic patients, psychological injury intervention in the form of relaxation and guided imagery contributed to statistically significant better physical and psychological outcomes. Strength and extension improvement, as well as reduction in state, trait, and reinjury anxiety, were superior for the intervention group as compared to placebo and control groups from preintervention (2 weeks postsurgery) to post-intervention (24 weeks postsurgery). Other benefits of the intervention, according to subject self-report, included pain and stress management, empowerment, control of recovery, and overall body wellness . Implications of these research findings are discussed, as well as suggestions offered for subsequent injury intervention research.



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Psychology Commons