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Class overview

Return to play clearance is often touted as one of the hardest decisions that medical and performance teams have to make. It’s a series of decisions building on each other, as an athlete moves across a continuum from return to participation, return to play, and return to performance. In this Masterclass you’ll learn how to guide an athlete through this process. Although return to play is different for every athlete, this course will give you a foundation in common principles that can be applied across different injuries and sports.


5 modules


3 hours

About the presenter

Dr. Amy Arundale (PhD) is a researcher and an experienced sports physical therapist, having most recently worked with the Brooklyn Nets. Amy completed her PhD under Dr. Lynn Snyder-Mackler investigating primary and secondary ACL injury prevention as well as career length and return to sport in soccer players. Amy has also been significantly involved in the APTA and AASPT, including serving as chair of the AASPT’s membership committee, Director of the APTA’s Student Assembly, and as a member of the APTA’s Leadership Development Committee.

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Class modules


Introduction and Planning

Runtime: 35:14
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An athlete you work with has had an injury, what next? How do you approach return to performance? Planning is of the utmost importance in a return to performance. From goal setting, to laying expectations and establishing objective criteria the planning done in the initial stages of a rehabilitation will help set out a map for the collaborative team involved. This module discusses the return to sport continuum, and in particular the process of goal setting, criteria building, and establishing a framework for return to performance.

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Return to running

Runtime: 40:48
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Before an athlete returns to performance, they must first return to activities of daily living. For athletes, activities of daily living aren’t just transfers, dressing, and bathing, but the fundamental activities involved in sport such as squatting, running, and jumping. Returning to running, in particular, requires gradual progression including initial pre-running activities all the way to a return to sprinting. This module discusses the early acute/sub-acute phases of rehabilitation within the context of a return to performance and then recommendations for how to build objective criteria and return to running into rehabilitation.

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Return to strength

Runtime: 23:50
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Sport demands strength, therefore, regardless of sport a rehabilitation must consider the demands an athlete will face and make sure that they are prepared. This module reviews how to establish what the demands of sport are and recommendations on considerations for objective strength criteria. Further, this module discusses different types of strength, and the importance of attention to periodisation and programmatically building strength within a rehabilitation.

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Return to movement

Runtime: 53:32
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How an athlete moves can determine their success as well as make them unique. After injury, movement patterns are disrupted, requiring rehabilitation to include movement re-training. Incorporating principles of motor learning may help ensure that movements remain unconscious and facilitate a faster return to performance. This module reviews principles of motor learning and encourages clinicians to think more creatively about how they build movement training for their athletes. In particular this module encourages integrating decision-making, cognitive demand, and perturbation into more exercises and earlier in rehabilitation.

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Return to performance

Runtime: 34:00
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Return to performance may be the hardest portion of the return to sport continuum. In a team environment the athlete is back competing and in a clinic environment often the athlete has already been discharged. Regardless of these challenges, if return to pre-injury level of performance was the athlete’s goal, it is important that a return to performance is achieved. This module discusses how to track an athlete’s return to performance using monitoring and key performance indicators. The module also discusses aspects of rehabilitation that may be overlooked such as psychological readiness and the impact of technical and tactical training.

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