A return to sports after a shoulder dislocation involves many factors. An understanding of the pathoanatomy and the natural history of shoulder dislocations is important when deciding upon treatment after a dislocation. As an athlete recovers from a dislocation, there are several factors that need to be looked at when considering a return to play. There are ideal criteria that give some guidelines for return; however, frequently the athlete will return after meeting some but not all criteria. Protective braces may help in the early return. After surgical stabilization, many of the same principles apply, but return to play should only occur after attainment of full strength, motion, stability, and confidence.
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