“Being a professional athlete is never easy, especially when you are a female”. Jenna Kingsley, 23 years old, is in the middle of rehab and penniless. Since the age of 13 Kingsley has dedicated her entire life to football, with education and a social life constantly taking the back seat. So when Jenna ruptured her Anterior Cruciate Ligament (ACL) 16 months ago she became not only physically disabled, but psychologically damaged too.
Michel Baines, owner of BaiMed physiotherapy in Wollongong, emphasises the importance of maintaining a positive mental relationship with patients throughout their recovery.
“For many athletes, especially those who make it professionally, it’s their livelihood. An injury doesn’t just take them out of the game, it can also restrict them from completing everyday activities, such as work,” she said.
Baines’ practice throughout the region has built a solid reputation, being not only the official sports medicine team for the local NRL club, the Illawarra Dragons, but working alongside many competitive teams located in the area.
Many athletes like Kingsley can face multiple psychological barriers during rehabilitation, including depression and anxiety. Female athletes can find the struggle particularly difficult because many can’t earn a living from their sporting careers. This situation led to the Matilda’s striking against the FFA to demand a pay increase and health benefits so they don’t have the added psychological pressure of financial hardship while dealing with a sports-related physical injury.
For Kingsley, rehabilitation is almost up and it’s nearly time to strap on the boots. However, she has new challenges to face: Is she is mentally fit and can even find the time to play again after paying back all those medical bills.