Date of Award

5-2015

Degree Type

Report

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Department

Health, Physical Education, and Recreation

First Advisor

Richard Gordin

Abstract

Deepening the present understanding of the multidimensional nature of athlete perceptions of pain requires attention to three specific gaps. First, the field currently lacks fundamental knowledge regarding the relationship between an individual’s athletic identity and the role of the brain in deciphering and responding to painful stimuli. Because athletes view injury as a potential loss of identity and thus a significant part of themselves (International Olympic Committee, n.d.), the severity they ascribe to pain is both conceptually and practically relevant. Second, the field has yet to fully explore the specific areas of the brain associated with subsequent functional connectivity as it relates to pain perception. Due to the increased activation of the brain’s neuromatrix during painful experiences (Peltz, Seifert, DeCol, Dorfler, Schwab, & et al., 2011), it is critical to highlight the specific areas and connections within the brain that are activated during painful events. Such activation patterns are referred to in the literature as functional connectivity. Third, the field has yet to document the potential impact of an individual’s past injury experiences on their perceptions of pain, thereby influencing future injury experiences. Because injury is commonplace in elite athletics (Sharma et al., 2011), it is important to examine how athletes subjectively perceive and react to the pain that accompanies an objective physical injury event.

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