Return to sport after injury: The relationship between an athlete’s type of motivation and a recurrence of injury
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Introduction and goal Development of the decision-based return to sport model attempts to address a lack of objective criteria in the literature to determine an athlete’s readiness to return to sport (Creighton, Shrier, Shultz, Meeuwisse and Matheson. 2010). The model reveals motivational factors that may modify complex return to sport decisions, often the responsibility of physiotherapists. An athlete with extrinsic motivation to return to sport may persuade the physiotherapist and/or coach to return to sport too soon which may lead to the athlete being re-injured. The aim of this study was to establish coaches’ expectations from physiotherapists regarding motivational factors for athletes to return to sport, athletes’ type of motivation to return to sport, and a relation to recurrence of injury. Methodology A descriptive and cohort-analytical design were used to collect quantitative data from two populations. Six track and field coaches of elite athletes older than 18 years, participated in structured interviews. The data collected with the structured interviews included the coaches’ expectations and views with regards to physiotherapists’ role in return to sport decisions. Fifteen injured elite athletes, older than 18 years, returning to sport after injury were tested with an adapted revised sport motivation scale to determine their type of motivation to return to sport and follow-up phone calls were used to determine if their return to sport was successful. Results Coaches were of the opinion that their elite athletes often return to sport too soon due to pressure from persons, sponsors or institutions and indicated that a recommendation regarding the type of motivation of an athlete to RTS will be of value. The Kruskal-Wallis test and Wilcoxon two sample test indicated that type of motivation was not found to statistically influence injury recurrence. Summary Although higher scores for extrinsic types of motivation was not found to statistically influence injury recurrence for elite track and field athletes in Bloemfontein, the noted trend of higher scores in these types of motivation needs further investigation on larger populations from different ages and types of sport. Track and field coaches of these athletes were of the opinion that their athletes often return to sport too soon due to motivational factors and did mention that they would value input from physiotherapists regarding motivational factors prevalent in their athletes that may cause further harm. Physiotherapists who cleared an elite athlete for return to sport based on the decision-based return to sport model, could modify their decisions and referral to an appropriate healthcare professional could benefit the athlete with a successful return to sport.