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Clinicians face return-to-play (RTP) decisions on a daily basis, and a lot of discussions revolve around which criteria are most helpful for decision-making. The models around RTP have a strong focus on biological and physiological aspects (tissue healing and body function), and recently started to integrate psychological aspects (biopsychosocial models).1 These models individualise RTP, by considering athlete-related factors, but fail to consider the myriad extrinsic parameters that influence and modify RTP issues. Here, the Strategic Assessment of Risk and Risk Tolerance model,2 which organises the available information into factors that determine participation risk and introduces a further layer (step 3=risk tolerance modifiers) to account for these other factors, can help the decisionmaker/s.
Looking at the broader picture of RTP, we see that decision-making processes are the end result of a series of steps, starting from injury occurrence. To provide an optimal path to RTP, these steps must be defined and their execution mastered, often in complex multistakeholder environments typical of elite sports. We believe that we can learn from management principles to implement better RTP approaches.
RTP is a project to manage
Project management (PM) defines a project as a temporary endeavour to create a unique …
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