Back in the Game – Emerson’s Return to Play Programs Ensure Readiness


Two of the most common injuries among youth and adult athletes are anterior cruciate ligament (ACL) tears and concussions, affecting more than 1 million athletes each year. Recovery is lengthy and requires an expert healthcare team. Studies show that reinjury occurs in 25% of athletes recovering from ACL repair. Persistent symptoms can occur in 10 to 20% of patients who suffer a concussion, often when athletes return to their sport too soon.

Getting Athletes Back Safely

To reduce reinjury, Emerson’s Sports Medicine and Performance team developed Return to Play (RTP) programs specifically for athletes with ACL injuries and concussions. It is one of the only centers in Massachusetts offering RTP testing capabilities proven to work. Following an athlete’s prescribed physical therapy (PT) program, experienced Doctors of Physical Therapy (DPTs) assess them using scientific methods and RTP protocols to ensure their readiness to return to play.

Emerson’s injury-specific performance testing programs complement comprehensive and personalized physical therapy programs to help athletes return to safe play and reduce their risk of reinjury:

  • ACL Performance Testing assesses leg strength, endurance, jump ability, and other components of sports performance.
  • Concussion Return to Play determines balance and tolerance to lift weights and run.
With the latest equipment in a high- performance, athlete-centered gym, Emerson’s sports medicine team uses gauges and dynamometers to measure strength, and apps to examine the quality of the athlete’s movement and determine their readiness to get back in the game and succeed.

On the Court – Ready to Win

Lyla Cotter, a senior varsity basketball star at Nashoba Regional High School, needed surgery to repair a ruptured ACL. She explains, “Basketball is my life sport and a big part of who I am. I did not think I would be able to play again. After surgery, I worked with Emerson’s Sports Medicine team to recover. I trusted them. They focused on my physical and mental strength. Good days in PT brought tears to my eyes because I knew I was closer to returning. After many months, when the team thought I was ready, I did the ACL Performance Testing program and was cleared to play! I scored seven points in my first game back and felt like myself again.”

Lyla shares these tips for injured athletes:
  • Be open with your family, physical therapists, surgeon, and others on your team. When you talk about how you feel, you gain support and confidence. It makes hard days easier.
  • Contact the Sports Medicine team at Emerson. They are experienced with injured athletes and identify areas to strengthen. When I wanted to give up, they were there for me physically and mentally. They got me back to the sport I love.