MJ's The Last Dance - "How f*** bad is the 10%?"
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Are injuries preventing you from coming back to sport? Recently the Michael Jordan documentary “The Last Dance” has been a success. I was watching it and something caught my mind as a physiotherapist. Michael was injured during a game. He had a surgery for his foot and he was excited to get back into the game after rehab. He asked the doctor “what is the rate of injury reoccurrence?” The doctor said, “There will be a 90% chance of it not happening and a 10% chance of reinjury. If it happens again, your career will be over.” Michael didn't see a problem of returning onto the court as there is a 90% chance of it not happening. However, a lot of people around him saw this as a barrier from coming back to play as they looked at the side of half glass empty. So Michael said to the doctor “what F*** bad is the 10%”?
So the question is… When should a player return to sport after an injury?
As physiotherapists, our goal is to improve function and allow athletes to return to sport at pre-injury level ASAP. We are the people that give out advice on whether an athlete can play or not. I like to map out the process into 3 stages, the initial phase, the rehab phase and return to sport stage.
During the initial phase, physiotherapists manage expectations by setting short and long term SMART goals with patients. The goals should be specific, measurable, achievable, realistic and have a due date. From there, it should give the athlete an idea on how long it is going to take to recover.
Next it is the rehab phase. This phase is the toughest phase. During rehab, you will need to keep yourself accountable for exercising and doing the repetitions recommended by your physiotherapist.
Finally, the stage of return to sport. After all the rehab you have done, the last thing you want is to reinjure yourself and have all your hard work go to waste. When there is 90% chance of being okay and 10% of reinjury, we must take things slowly and ease into the game. Our goal is to reduce that 10% chance to 9%... 8%... and as low as possible. For example, our recommendation would be to get back into the game and play a 1/4 of it. Then work our way up to 1/2 then 3/4 then eventually playing a full game. This is because the athlete has been out of the game for a period of time. It is important to slowly retrain the muscles so it will be able to adapt to high loads and unpredictable movements during a game.
Take home message:
The above information is the plan of the road to recovery for an injured athlete. It is important for physiotherapists to manage expectations, provide reassurance, minimise risk and work out a thorough plan for the athlete to return to sport. The main take home message is = all parties need to be onboard with the decision including the athlete, doctor, coach and finally the physiotherapist who manages the rehabilitation.
This information can be used to gain a better understanding of returning to sport. To find out more about how we can help your rehabilitation, or to book in for a consultation you can contact us via our Limp in Leap out Physiotherapy & Wellness contact us page, or book online here.