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To Play or Not to Play

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Each and every day, athletes of all levels and abilities get injured practicing or competing in sports which they love. These athletes have to go through recovery and rehabilitation from the injury prior to returning to sport. Since every athlete wants to be back on the field competing as soon as possible, it is up to the medical professionals to determine when it is appropriate to return to sport.

There are different medical professional s involved in the decision making process, and different types of testing that may be involved. Depending on the setting, physicians are most likely the professional who makes the final decision regarding when it is safe to return to play. That decision is based upon both medical testing and imaging studies (MRI, x-ray, etc) of the injured area as well as functional return to play testing.

Physical therapists and athletic trainers are skilled in administering return to play testing for injured athletes. Imaging and medical testing is effective to know whether a bone or muscle is healed, but one will not fully know what an athlete can do until they have performed functional testing. Return to play tests look mainly for symmetry between the injured side and the unaffected side while performing movements specific to the sport. There are a number of research studies linking asymmetry of strength and balance between the right and left as well as the front and back side of the body as a large contributor to injury risk in athletes.

Functional testing and return to play testing are excellent ways to look for symmetry in the body and help medical professionals determine whether an athlete is ready to return to competition. Kip Patterson, ATC, CSCS, who is the athletic trainer at Shawnee High School, knows first- hand how important testing is after a sports injury. "The proper transition from the treatment table back to the athletic field is crucial for the success of the injured athlete. They must be properly prepared and tested in a controlled atmosphere before they can be advanced to the unpredictable live game situation."

If you or a member of your family has experienced a sports related injury, it is important to see a clinician skilled in sports rehabilitation. The therapists at 3DPT can create an individualized program to help you get back on the field today.

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"The team at 3DPT is made up of dedicated and caring Physical Therapists whose expertise and hands-on approach are what I seek for my patients. It is their fundamental philosophy that has made my professional experiences with them nothing short of exemplary."

     -      Dr. Kathryn Gollotto, DO - Orthopedic Reconstruction Specialists