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An interdisciplinary approach to the management of vocal cord dysfunction in an elite female swimmer: A case study

Roberts, Claire-Marie


Claire-Marie Roberts


Acute pulmonary disorders are commonplace within the athletic population, with exercise induced bronchoconstriction, and vocal cord dysfunction (VCD) common diagnoses. VCD is a condition that causes the vocal folds to close during inhalation, causing obstruction at the larynx and thereby a severely impaired sporting performance. VCD can be brought on by laryngeal irritants, emotional and psychological stress and asthma. The present case study details the interdisciplinary approach to the treatment of an elite female swimmer with VCD with an intervention programme that lasted nine weeks, instigated by a local general practitioner who chose to engage a sport psychology practitioner due to the sport-specific nature of the psychological stress she experienced. The steps involved in the design of the sport psychology interventions are outlined and the relationship of those interventions to the work of the other specialists is discussed. The nine-week intervention programme was aimed at reducing the swimmer's levels of precompetitive state anxiety and perfectionist tendencies; using a combination of goal-setting, imagery, and cognitive restructuring. During the course of nine weeks, the athlete’s levels of competitive state anxiety and perfectionist tendencies reduced over time along with the frequency of VCD occurrence.


Roberts, C. (2018). An interdisciplinary approach to the management of vocal cord dysfunction in an elite female swimmer: A case study. Case Studies in Sport and Exercise Psychology, 12-20.

Journal Article Type Article
Acceptance Date Nov 26, 2017
Publication Date Nov 26, 2018
Deposit Date Nov 27, 2017
Journal Case Studies in Sport & Exercise Psychology
Print ISSN 2470-484
Publisher Human Kinetics
Peer Reviewed Peer Reviewed
Pages 12-20
Keywords elite sport, swimming, vocal cord dysfunction, competitive anxiety, perfectionism, adolescent
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