The Implementation of a Return-to-Play Protocol with Standardized Physical Therapy Referrals in a Collegiate Football Program: PT’s Role in Return-to-Play, A Clinical Commentary.
Teare-Ketter A, Ebert J, Todd H.
Sport-related concussions (SRCs) are multi-faceted injuries requiring coordinated care for return-to-play (RTP). Although the number of concussions in collegiate football is increasing annually, there is poor standardization among RTP protocols. Recent evidence suggests there is an increased risk of lower extremity injury, neuropsychiatric consequences, and re-injury after SRC, and risk factors for a prolonged recovery from SRC have also been identified. Evidence demonstrates a faster RTP and improved outcomes with early physical therapy intervention; however, this is not yet common practice in the treatment of acute SRC.
There is little guidance available on the development and implementation of a multidisciplinary RTP rehabilitation protocol for SRC that incorporates standardized physical therapy. By describing an evidence-based RTP protocol with standardized physical therapy management, and measures taken to implement this protocol, this clinical commentary aims to identify steps in treating SRC that can be used to improve recovery. The purpose of this commentary is to: a) survey the current state of standardization of RTP protocols in collegiate football; b) highlight the development and implementation of a RTP protocol with standardized physical therapy referral and management in an NCAA Division II collegiate football program; and c) describe results of a full-season pilot study, including time to evaluation, time to RTP, rate of re-injury or lower extremity injury, and the clinical significance of protocol implementation.
Level of Evidence: Level V