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Empowering injured athletes is a critical concept within sport and exercise medicine to optimise patient experiences and return-to-sport (RTS) outcomes.1 2 Unfortunately, scant attention has been given to how clinicians can facilitate a sense of athlete empowerment during rehabilitation and RTS.
Drawing on existing empowerment literature, we consider empowerment to be an individual and social process whereby athletes are provided with the means to become more self-aware and health literate, which can, in turn, facilitate greater self-management, freedom and control over decisions and actions affecting the course of injury rehabilitation.2 3 We contend an empowered injured athlete is one who volitionally engages in their rehabilitation and experiences a sense of personal control over RTS decisions; perceives themselves to be competent or capable of achieving rehabilitation milestones and experiences a sense of connection to others (eg, rehabilitation providers, coaches, teammates, family). Given these three features of empowerment, we base our recommendations for enhancing empowerment through a framework addressing its components: the basic psychological needs theory (BPNT).4
Basic psychological needs theory
The BPNT is an empirically tested subtheory of the larger self-determination theory that articulates the relevance of autonomy, competence and relatedness. Deci and Ryan4 suggest that environmental support for individuals’ basic psychological needs contributes to self-determined motivation, well-being and adaptive behavioural outcomes.5 There is value and need to …
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Contributors All authors contributed to the scoping meetings for the ideas within this editorial and to the final writing of the manuscript.
Funding The authors have not declared a specific grant for this research from any funding agency in the public, commercial or not-for-profit sectors.
Competing interests AG is an Associate Editor with BJSM.
Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.
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