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1997 Volume 1 Issue 1 Sports Medicine

Injury Identification and

Recognition for Coaches

When players sustain injuries in training the coach may be the only one available to deal
with the situation. It is important that the coach possesses a basic knowledge of injury
recognition in order to be able to identify and differentiate major from minor injury.

WOULD YOU KNOW WHAT TO DO? 5. If a player could not move his/her injured Signs of inflammation
TEST YOUR KNOWLEDGE BY part actively, I would: 1. Heat
ANSWERING THE QUESTIONS BELOW a. Progress to move the injured part 2. Pain
passively myself 3. Swelling
Injury identification and recognition b. Offer light resistance to the muscles in 4. Redness/Discolouration
Self assessment questions the area 5. Loss of function
(for answers see page 35) c. Stop the injury recognition routine
1. When a player sustains an injury the d. Begin the injury testing routine again The three grades of injury are:
therapist/coach should: Grade 1: Minor
a. Ask questions before touching any body Note: There may be more than one Signs and symptoms of inflammation nil
parts correct answer to minimal.
b. Move the part passively before asking Grade 2: Moderate
the player to move it actively Please refer to the answers on page 35. Signs and symptoms of inflammation
c. Immediately palpate (feel) the damaged noticeable and significant.
area If you did not score 5 out of 5 you should Grade 3: Severe
d. Ask the player to actively move the carry on reading. Signs and symptoms of inflammation very
injured part before resisting the players evident, particularly loss of movement.
movements If you did achieve the maximum score the text
below may contain facts that will add to your
2. Complete the following. present knowledge or act as a refresher of
A player performs active movement before this important area.
any attempt to move the injured part passively
because: Injury identification and recognition

When an injury is sustained, there may or

may not be "tell-tale" signs of inflammation
3. When a player is injured the therapist / depending on the grade (or level) of injury:
coach should:
a. Move the body part to check for a
b.Immediately palpate (feel) the damaged
area for deformity
c. Not wait for the players view but begin
immediately looking at the injured area.
d.Always compare the injured area with
the corresponding part on the other side
of the body

4. List 5 recognition signs and symptoms of

inflammation following injury:

On F.A. Courses we use the term 'SALTAPS'

to explain the injury assessment procedure.
It stands for the following:

S See the initial injury

A Ask the player what happened
L Look for signs of inflammation, deformity,
T Touch for tenderness, pain, swelling, pins
and needles etc.
A Active: ask for active movements from the
P Passive: move the part passively
S Strength: resist movements by player of
injured part

S See A key sign of injury is loss of function, Alan Hodson

The coach may have seen the injury occur and i.e. movement. M.A.,DipRG/RT.,DipTP.,Cert.Ed.,MCSP., SfiP,
will know the mechanics of the injury force. Head of Medical Education for the Football
In minor injuries, particularly where the player Association. He has been in post for seven
A Ask is likely to resume playing, the range of years and is the administrator of the FA
Ask the player what is wrong, where the injury is movement will be almost full. In these cases Doping Control Programme.
etc. Do not touch or move the injured part yet. you can progress to the passive movement
testing. He qualified as a Chartered Physiotherapist in
Please note 1972. He was principal of a Physiotherapy
If there is no response to verbal questioning P Passive Movement Testing School in the National Health Service prior to
then the player could be unconscious and The therapist/coach moves the body part for joining The Football Association in 1990. He is
his/her life may be threatened if his/her the player. The player takes no active part in currently co-ordinating The Football
airway is blocked. In this case the Emergency this at all. With knowledge of how far the Association Medical Screening Programme for
Aid procedure of Cardio-Pulmonary player has moved his joint actively, the Youth Trainees and the Medical Research
Resuscitation (C.P.R.) Assessment - A.B.C. therapist/coach moves the part through this Audit of Injuries sustained in Professional
- should be carried out: range and a little further, checking all the time Football.
for facial reaction. If this causes no undue
Airway problem, then the therapist will move on to
Breathing strength testing.
S Strength Testing
All coaches receive C.P.R. training on the New The therapist/coach resists the action of
Generation of Courses. F.A. Emergency Aid muscles working over the injured part. Again,
Courses are conducted regularly in your area the therapist checks for pain or discomfort
if you feel you require training or refreshment through facial expression and questioning.
of skills. If the player passes through the seven areas
covered by SALTAPS assessment, he is then
L Look helped into the standing position for
Look at the injury site. You are looking for applicable weight bearing functional tests.
signs of inflammation.
T Touch It is very important to realise that in minor
The injured part should be exposed and injuries where the player will carry on, all
gently palpated. Observe the player's face for stages of the recognition testing will be
response, i.e. a grimace caused by discomfort carried out. However, in moderate to severe
or pain. Establish exactly where the problem injuries, the assessment will not be completed
is, and also the grade or perceived grade of as the signs and symptoms are substantial and
injury (see above). that to continue would cause further injury.

A Active Movement As the grade of injury rises, so do the signs

Up to this point, no movements of the injured and symptoms of injury. At some point, a
part have been asked for. Only carry out decision will need to be taken: Is the player fit
active movements where there have been no to carry on? Sometimes this is a clear cut
perceived problems up to this point of the decision, but sometimes it is not so clear.
assessment procedure. The player is asked to Be guided by what you see, touch, feel and
carry out all the major movements associated observe. If in doubt "Steady and Support" the
with the nearest joint or joints. You should player and instruct another player to summon
note the range of movement gained in each assistance by calling the emergency services.
direction, and checking for signs of discomfort
or pain.