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29-01-2012 | Surgery | Article

SPORTS score effectively evaluates post-surgery return to sport


Free abstract

MedWire News: The Subjective Patient Outcome for Return to Sports (SPORTS) score is a valid and reliable tool to assess whether injured athletes who undergo anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) reconstruction are able to return to sport, suggest research findings.

"For athletes, the main reason for treatment is usually return to sport, while other parameters like the ability to perform the activities of daily life are less important because they are generally not affected in an ACL-deficient knee unless there is failure of the reconstruction followed by a severe instability," explain Davide Blonna (University of Turin Medical School, Italy) and colleagues.

They add: "For this reason, current impairment measures may overestimate the success of ACL reconstruction."

The SPORTS score was first used to assess the ability of an athlete to return to sport after surgery to correct elbow contracture.

To investigate the feasibility of the SPORTS score in athletes with other joint dysfunctions, the team asked 47 athletes (aged on average 30 years) who had undergone ACL reconstruction 5-10 years earlier to complete the SPORTS score at the clinic and 2 weeks later at their homes.

Athletes were also asked to complete the Knee injury and Osteoarthritis Outcome Score (KOOS), the Lysholm scale, and the Short Form (SF)-36 - which are considered the "gold standard" measurements of an ACL-deficient knee.

Findings showed that the test-retest reliability for the SPORTS score was excellent, with 43 of the 47 athletes providing the same answer at the first and second examinations (intra-class correlation co-efficient = 0.97).

There was also a strong correlation between the SPORTS score and the overall KOOS score as well as sports and recreation components of the KOOS. A significant, yet moderate, correlation was seen between the SPORTS score and the Lysholm score, as well as the physical component of the SF-36 scale.

Analysis of the floor and ceiling effect of the SPORTS score in comparison to the Lysholm score and the sports and recreation component of the KOOS score revealed that the SPORTS score was less affected by the ceiling effect compared with the other scores (32 vs 64-70%).

"The consequence of this finding is that [the Lysholm and KOOS] outcome tools might not be sensitive enough to detect small, yet statistically significant differences between treatments that are successful overall," say the researchers.

Furthermore, distribution of the outcomes of the SPORTS score was more homogenous through the entire range of possible outcomes.

"[The SPORTS score] is a simple, valid, and quick self-administered score that can be used in association with other scores in everyday clinical practice as well as for research purposes," conclude the authors in the journal Knee Surgery, Sports Traumatology, Arthroscopy.

By Ingrid Grasmo

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