When an athlete suffers an injury, the first thing he or she wants to know is when they will be able to get back in the game.
Although each athlete and injury is different, athletic trainers follow a protocol to make sure their response is "soon."
With an injury like an ankle sprain, the first measure of treatment is RICE – rest, ice, compression and elevation. Pain tolerance and reduced swelling are often early indicators of when an athlete can begin rehabilitation to improve range of motion and muscle strength.
Doug Wiesner, youth sports medicine program director for the Sports Medicine and Performance Center at The University of Kansas Health System, said regular assessment is required. Athletes must be evaluated daily to determine what steps to take for the athlete to return to play. And rehabilitation must be appropriate as well.
"The exercise demand has to be functional," Wiesner says. “It doesn’t do any good to sit an athlete down on the table and strengthen his ankle. You have to strengthen it based on what he will be doing on the basketball court. Nobody wants to sit around on their couch for a week."
According to Wiesner, exercise that encourages even a slight shift in the body helps strengthen muscles and ligaments at the injury site.
While all athletes want to return to play quickly, the overall health and stability of the player trumps wins and losses every day.