A Systematic Approach for Return to Sport Testing and Management Following Lower Extremity Injury

This presentation is a replay from NATA 2019 in Las Vegas, offering a second chance to experience the event's valuable content and insights.

History of prior injury is the strongest risk factor for future lower extremity injury. In addition, a large portion of secondary injuries occur during the first 2-3 months following return to sport. Thus, there is a gap in determining when an individual is ready to safely return to sport following initial injury. Individuals who pass a comprehensive return to sport testing battery are at lower risk for subsequent injury once returning to sport. As such, the development and utilization of a comprehensive return-to-sport testing battery can help determine one´s readiness to safely return to sport. This presentation will discuss the key components of an evidence-based return to sport testing battery following lower extremity injuries.


  • Participants will be able to describe the changes in injury rates following initial lower extremity injury and subsequent return to sport., 
  • Participants will be able to describe the known risk factors for secondary injury following initial lower extremity injury., 
  • Participants will be able to utilize validated return to sport testing that can determine an individual´s readiness to return to sport., 
  • Participants will be able to discuss the role of training load monitoring and management in the return to sport process following lower extremity injury.


Domain 1: Risk Reduction Wellness and Health Literacy, Domain 2: Assessment Evaluation and Diagnosis

CEUs: 1.0 Category A

Keywords: knee, injury, lower extremity, return to sport, ankle, leg, testing

Darin Padua, PhD, ATC

Darin A. Padua is the Associate Provost for Academic Operations of the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. As an academic leader, he works to listen, collaborate, and empower others to work as a team towards our shared mission, vision, and priorities.

The Joseph Curtis Sloane Distinguished Professor of Exercise and Sport Science, Padua has been a member of UNC’s faculty since 2001. He teaches courses in biomechanics, human anatomy, and kinesiology with a focus on injury risk mitigation and optimizing human performance. Throughout his career, Padua has mentored fellow faculty, along with hundreds of graduate and undergraduate students. He served as chair in the Department of Exercise and Sport Science from 2013 to 2023.

With more than 25 years of experience, Padua is an internationally recognized scholar and is the Co-Director of the Musculoskeletal Injury Prevention (MOTION) Science Institute. His research revolves around prevention of musculoskeletal injuries, such as ACL rupture, by studying the role of movement quality and biomechanics as injury risk factors and intervention targets. He has published over 200 peer-reviewed articles, and his work has been funded by the National Institutes of Health, the National Athletic Trainers’ Association, and the American Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine. He

He received the Young Investigator Award by the National Athletic Trainers’ Association (2006) and was later awarded the O’Donoghue Sports Injury Research Award for the most outstanding sport injury related research paper by the American Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine (2008). He attained Fellow status in the National Academy of Kinesiology, the National Athletic Trainers’ Association, and received the Most Distinguished Athletic Trainer Award. His career research achievements were recognized by the by the National Athletic Trainers’ Association with receipt of the Medal for Distinguished Research (2017).

Padua earned a B.S. in athletic training from San Diego State University, M.A. in exercise and sport science/athletic training from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and PhD in sports medicine from the University of Virginia. Born and raised in Visalia, California, he lives with his wife Jody and three daughters in Durham, NC.

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