Return to play following spinal cord injury

  • P Chatzikonstantis
  • Ioannis S Benetos IS
Keywords: spinal cord injuries, sport injuries, return to play


Approximately 9% of spinal cord injuries (SCI) occur during sports. Decisions concerning return to play (RTP) have to be made for all the injured athletes at all levels of competition.

This study aims to review the existing literature concerning RTP on athletes with SCI regardless of the level of competition and to assess guidelines and protocols concerning RTP after SCI. Through the online PUBMED, CINAHL, EMBASE and AMED databases and following the PRISMA guidelines, studies regarding RTP after SCI were identified.

 In total twelve studies were included. Four studies assessed RTP of athletes after a SCI, whereas, the remaining eight studies dealt with RTP protocols and guidelines.

RTP after a SCI must be individualized based on the mechanism of injury, the anatomical site of injury, the imaging studies, and the athlete’s recovery response. Future studies providing evidence on thoracic and lumbar injuries are needed in order to achieve stronger recommendations and protocols for a safer RTP.



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Author Biographies

P Chatzikonstantis

Postgraduate Training Program: “Rehabilitation following spinal cord lesions.Spinal pain management”, School of Medicine, National and Kapodistrian University of Athens, Greece

Ioannis S Benetos IS

Postgraduate Training Program: “Rehabilitation following spinal cord lesions.Spinal pain management”, School of Medicine, National and Kapodistrian University of Athens, Greece

3rd Department of Orthopaedic Surgery, National &Kapodistrian University of Athens, Greece


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