2000-02-19 / Columnists

Chatting With Chapey

by Dr. Geraldine M. Chapey

Dr. Edward Weiss:

Excellent, Interesting Sports Psychologist

Dr. Edward Weiss addressed us at a meeting at the West End Temple
on his favorite topic: "Hello Fun and Games: Goodbye Aches and Pains". Dr. Weiss has a BA from Williams College and an MA and Ph.D. from the University of Connecticut. He is an avid sports person. His many
activities include: ice hockey, skiing, tennis, mountain climbing, ice
skating and healing. In addition to excelling in these various athletic
endeavors, he has a Ph.D. in sports psychology.

A sports psychologist looks at us as focused people who are interested in preparing ourselves to be physically fit and as individuals who are learning the art of concentration so that we can prosper in our
athletic encounters. Sports psychologists are hired by professional and
amateur teams to help the players improve their performance.

Ed Weiss' talk was very meaningful because in addition to having completed extensive research in the area of sports psychology, he is a seasoned
sportsman who has had to accommodate and recover from numerous physical injuries which he incurred as a result of his athletic activities.

Ed Weiss stressed the need for a strong, positive mental frame of
mind. He noted that he has had to recover from seven major surgeries. He
confided in us that there is no magic answer. He has had to endure
sustained chronic pain. Although his doctors recommended surgery, they
told him that in the long run it would ease the pain but the road to
recovery was strenuous, required a long period of time and would demand a major prolonged effort on his part.

The Internet served as a source of information to Ed before he decided to go for the surgery. In addition, he researched it in the library. This taught him two things--1. What really happened to him and 2. What options were available to him. While on the Internet he met people
who had the same surgery. They told him what could go right and what could go wrong. These people served as a support group. In the beginning, the road from surgery to recovery seemed like a very long route. For example, his recent knee surgery required six months of prolonged daily physical therapy and one year of moderate activity. One of the biggest problems is to remain motivated.

Prior to having any surgery, Dr. Weiss decided to do as much
physical therapy as he could in order to build up the area around his knee.
The stronger that your leg is before knee surgery, the easier it will be
to take on the physical therapy after the surgery. One important thing
that Ed noted was that no matter how well he was prepared for the surgery he had no idea how much pain there would be. He stressed that the individual has to work through the anxiety attacks which accompany these circumstances.

He compared having the surgery with Kubler-Ross's stages of death
and dying. The stages are 1. denial and isolation, 2. anger 3.bargining,
4.depression (i.e. anxiety about the surgery), and 5. acceptance. In
addition to these stages Kubler-Ross stresses a sixth response that works
throughout the stages and that is hope.

Ed stressed the fact that you must use your mind to overcome the
obstacles. You need to refuel yourself. He advised that once you have
decided to have surgery and you have built yourself up to withstand it--
the best advice is to move quickly. He recommended that you bring your
favorite book to the hospital and read it for distraction. You need to be
an active participant in your recovery. You must remain achievement
motivated. You must keep your aspirations high but keep in mind that it
takes time.

Dr. Weiss recommended choosing a good physical therapist. That
person will be a valuable resource. The therapist will help you to chart
your progress and to set realistic goals. You need to set parameters.

If you are in a healthy condition, the American College of Sports
Medicine recommends thirty minutes of physical activity a day. If that is
to difficult to fit into your schedule then twenty minute exercise periods
three times a week will be helpful. The best advice is to keep continually
motivated and have a positive attitude.

Dr. Weiss' presentation was informative, interesting, humorous and
practical. He is an outstanding lecturer who can hold the attention of the audience. Everyone who heard him went away much wiser.


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