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Christie Powell, Jody Jensen and Samantha Johnson

Context : As sport participation increases globally, so will injury-related risks. The process used to determine return-to-sport following injury is vital to future sport participation and injury prevention. Early specialization along with poor management of sport participation causes an increase in injury risk and potential long-term health consequences for youth athletes. Objectives : Previous injury is a common intrinsic risk factor for new injuries. Identifying functional performance deficits, defined by return-to-sport criteria, minimizes these risk factors and provides athletes with guidelines to return safely to sport. The purposes of this clinical commentary and literature review are to provide a summary of current concepts and clinical practices and to identify functional performance measures as clinical assessment tools for return-to-play criteria in the youth population. Evidence : A literature review was completed using numerous databases, where 154 relevant articles were reviewed and 22 articles were included in this commentary. Of the 22 articles using functional performance measures for return-to-sport criteria, 6 were specific to youth, 12 had mixed populations of adults and youth, and 4 were normative samples for specific youth populations. Acquisition : The gaps in the literature pertaining to functional performance measures in the youth population are addressed, and future research needs for return-to-sport criteria are identified. Evidence Synthesis : This descriptive literature review identifies 22 articles that meet the search criteria for the youth population discussing the use of clinical functional performance measures in order to identify return-to-sport criteria for lower-extremity injuries. Conclusions: Due to the inconsistencies in terminology, definitions, and standardization of clinical assessment tools, it seems necessary to create a comprehensive functional performance test battery for the lower extremity that can be used as return-to-sport criteria.