Traditionally and in a majority of athletic settings, return to sport means just assessing the athlete's strength and endurance and maybe performing some movement assessments or functional assessments. However, all too often we forget about the psychological factors that are associated with return to sport. In the last couple of years however, there has been a tremendous amount of work done in this area.
One of the most common aspects talked about when determining return to sport is kinesiophobia or fear of movement. Many times, as the result of the athlete's initial injury, there is a lack of confidence in the injured limb and therefore a fear of reinjuring upon return to sport. There has been several studies in the last couple of years that show that athletes that have higher levels of kinesiophobia are in fact at greater risk of injury. In a systematic review done by Everhart et al in Knee Surg Sports Traum Artho 2015, the authors showed a high correlation to kinesiophobia and re-injury rates in ACLR patients. In a recent study by Noehren et al Orth J Sport Med 2017 the authors looked at athletes that were returning to sport and for those that demonstrated kinesiophobia if there was any correlation to the way they moved and potential injury risk. What the authors found was that athletes that demonstrated higher levels of kinesiophobia demonstrated lower weightbearing in the reconstructed limb during functional tasks like bilateral box drops.
Although assessed differently than what was done in this study, this is a similar pattern we see, especially when assessing an athlete's squatting motion. What is demonstrated is a significant lateral shift to the contralateral limb (uninvolved side) and away from the involved side. The authors of the previous study found similar results where the athlete was shifting their weight to the univolved side during vertical jumping and landing activities. The authors compared these results to a measure of kinesiophobia and found a strong correlation between the two. Meaning athletes that shifted weight away from the involved side scored high on the kinesiophobia scale.
With all the studies coming out showing similar correlations with risk and kinesiophobia, then how do we measure this in our athletes? Is this very complex measure and something that requires a psychologist to do? The answer to both those questions is no. Simply, we can implement at Tampa Kinesiophobia Form as a part of our evaluation process. For those that have not seen it, the Tampa Scale is below is scored on a 1-4 scale for each question.
Based on these results, it is high suggestive that this type of form be used in helping us make a return to sport decision for our athlete. We hope you have enjoyed this discussion and we will continue with this next week as we evaluate how we can impact kinesiophobia and and additional scales we can use for return to sport. #ViPerformAMI #ACLPlayItSafe