April 4, 2023
Acute respiratory tract infections are the most common cause of acute illness in athletes, accounting for ~50% of illness during tournaments or competitions. The COVID-19 pandemic increased this burden. Important clinical decisions for athletes having had an acute respiratory infection, is when they can return to training and to previous levels of competitive sport and full performance.
Data on return to sport in athletes after a SARS-CoV-2 infection, and the factors influencing decisions on the time course for return to training and the return to full performance, are limited. Researchers at the UP Sport, Exercise Medicine and Lifestyle Institute (SEMLI) and collaborators engaged in a study to determine if selected factors are predictive of prolonged return to training in athletes with recent SARS-CoV-2 infection. They found that decreased hours of training in the 7-day period before the onset of infection, as well as total number of symptoms and number of symptoms by anatomical region at the time of the acute infection, can predict prolonged return to training in an unvaccinated athlete with recent SARS-CoV-2 infection (ancestral virus and beta-variant).
These data can assist physicians in planning and guiding return to training and may develop into a predictive tool for return to training that can be used at the time of the initial consultation with the athlete. Future studies can explore whether these variables can be used to predict time to return to full performance and classify severity of acute respiratory infection in athletes.
Reference for this summary:
SNYDERS, C., M. SCHWELLNUS, N. SEWRY, K. KAULBACK, P. WOOD, I. SEOCHARAN, W. DERMAN, C. READHEAD, J. PATRICIOS, B. OLIVIER, and E. JORDAAN. Symptom Number and Reduced Preinfection Training Predict Prolonged Return to Training after SARS-CoV-2 in Athletes: AWARE IV. Med. Sci. Sports Exerc., Vol. 55, No. 1, pp. 1-8, 2023